NICE recommends GPs develop a national autism register

GPs could be asked to develop a national autism register to help end the ‘invisibility’ of autistic people in the health system | GP Online

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NICE has recommended the register be implemented with a new QOF indicator.

The proposal follows the findings of the Westminster Commission on Autism, set up by the National Children’s Group and chaired by Labour MP Barry Sheerman. Its report found that 76% of autistic people and parents said their GP did not make any reasonable adjustments for them or their autistic child. The report said this was an indication that health professionals may not consistently identify and make accommodations for the needs of autistic people.

NICE said a register would make autistic patients more easily identifiable to healthcare professionals in GP practices and help staff adapt their approach to suit patients’ needs.

For example, NICE said, it would allow staff to arrange for autistic children to come for vaccinations at quieter times and turn lights down for those with sensory problems.

Read the full news story here

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‘Worryingly’ high levels of suicide amongst people with autism

Suicide rates among people with autism in England have reached “worryingly” high levels, according to experts writing in The Lancet Psychiatry. | Story via OnMedica

The researchers – from Coventry and Newcastle universities – say the issue remains poorly understood and that action is urgently needed to help those most at risk.

Dr Sarah Cassidy from Coventry University cites a clinical study she led in 2014 in which 66% of adults newly diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS) reported having contemplated suicide. In the same study, which remains the most recent clinical research into suicidality in autism, 35% of the 365 respondents newly diagnosed with AS said they had planned or attempted to end their own life, with 31% reporting that they suffered depression.

A 2016 population study in Sweden also concluded that suicide is a leading cause of premature death in people with autism spectrum disorder.

Full story at OnMedica

Full reference: Cassidy S, Rodgers J. Understanding and prevention of suicide in autism. The Lancet Psychiatry, published 24 May 2017.

Antidepressant use in early pregnancy does not increase autism & ADHD risk in kids

Large-scale analysis suggests fewer risks than previously thought from exposure to antidepressant medications in early pregnancy | ScienceDaily

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A study led by Indiana University suggests that mothers’ use of antidepressants during early pregnancy does not increase the risk of their children developing autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conditions previously associated with these medications.

The research, reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found significant evidence for only a slight increase in risk for premature birth in the infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.

After controlling for multiple other risk factors, the researchers did not find any increased risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among exposed offspring. The risk for premature birth was about 1.3 times higher for exposed offspring compared to unexposed offspring.

Read the full commentary here

The original research abstract is available here

Frequent interactions with grandparents lowers the age of autism diagnosis

Children who have older siblings or frequent interaction with grandparents are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) earlier than those who do not, according to new research | ScienceDaily

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Study results show that approximately 50 percent of friends and family members reported that they had suspected a child to have a serious condition before they were aware that either parent was concerned. Maternal grandmothers and teachers were the two most common relationship categories to first raise concerns

While interactions with grandparents and friends played an important role, family structure also impacted the age of diagnosis. Children with no siblings were diagnosed 6 to 8 months earlier than children with siblings. Among children with siblings, children with older siblings were diagnosed approximately 10 months earlier than those without older siblings, suggesting that older siblings may serve as a reference point, helping parents calibrate whether younger siblings are on target developmentally.

Read the commentary here

Read the original research article here

Automated assessment of early autism

ScienceDaily | Published online: 3 November 2016

anatomy-1751201_960_720Autism Spectrum Disorder is usually diagnosed in early childhood, but genetic detection of this brain disorder could mean more timely interventions that improve life for the patient and their carers. Research suggests that machine learning might be used to analyze genetic data that points to an ASD diagnosis before symptoms become obvious.

Read the full overview here

Read the original research abstract here

Helping children on the autism spectrum deal with hospital admissions

Povey, C. Archives of Disease in Childhood. Published Online: 19 August 2016

boy-1299626_960_720For anyone, undergoing surgery is stressful. For children on the autism spectrum, it can be even more traumatic.

Sensory differences are present in the majority of children on the autism spectrum,1 and an increasing number of first person accounts illustrate the effects those sensory differences have on autistic people’s everyday functioning.2 The National Autistic Society recently launched a public awareness campaign, Too Much Information, to raise awareness of the fact that apparently challenging behaviours seen in autistic children may be a result of sensory overload rather than ‘bad’ behaviour (http://www.autism.org.uk).

Read the full editorial here

Transforming Care Must Know | Children’s and adults’ services

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Image source: gov.uk

The Transforming Care programme is based on the assumption that children, young people and adults with a learning disability and/or autism with behaviours described as challenging have the right to live satisfying and valued lives, and to be treated with dignity and respect. They should have a home within their community, be able to develop and maintain relationships, and get the support they need for a life that is healthy, safe and rewarding.

The Local Government Association is one of six national delivery partners (along with NHS England, the Department of Health, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Care Quality Commission and Health Education England) supporting delivery of the programme through sector led improvement, including regional support to Transforming Care Partnerships.

Read the full report here