Community Update: A Call to Bring the Power of Big Studies to Autism Behavioral Studies | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurene Boglio

Twitter can feel like an echo chamber — but sometimes the reverberations amplify important calls to action. This week, Andrew Whitehouse, Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia in Perth, tweeted a thread that turned up the volume on Helen Tager-Flusbergretweet of an article from December in Nature, Megastudies enhance the impact of applied behavioral sciences.”

“That’s what the field of ASD behavioral interventions could really use now! Tager-Flusberg, professor of anatomy, neurobiology, pediatrics and psychology at Boston University, commented.

Mega-studies, involving thousands of children and testing multiple interventions simultaneously, have the power to produce “more clinically meaningful data (i.e. related to real-world clinical decisions) than 50 years of single trials,” Whitehouse wrote. Yet to “swim against a scientific tide that we know won’t yield the answers we seek,” researchers must “agree that the stakes are high” and “resolve the perverse incentives around the competition versus collaboration”.

“If the ground calls for intervention. science reform, funding will follow,” he wrote. “At the moment, the terrain does not require it, to the detriment of the clinical impact.”

A flurry of tweets this week and the latest featured new findings on the use of prenatal ultrasound predict autism.

The study, conducted by Idan Menasheassistant professor of public health at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, found fetal abnormalities on ultrasound in 29.3% of children they assessed who were later diagnosed with autism, compared to 15.9% typically developing siblings and only 9.6% of typically developing children.

I think the results of this study are not surprising,” said Christa Lese Martin, scientific director of Geisinger and professor and director of the Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Spectrum in an email.

“It is well known that birth defects (as seen on ultrasound) coexist in patients with autism and other brain disorders,” Martin wrote. “The fact that this study only focused on the phenotype of autism as a developmental disorder and did not include other brain disorders (like intellectual disability, epilepsy, …) exaggerates the association with autism only and not the broader spectrum of developmental disabilities.”

Ben Gurion University hosted the 4and National Autism Research Conference in Israel last week.

“Prepare my first in-person conference in 2 years. “, tweeted Judah Koller, Assistant Professor of Clinical Child/School Psychology and Special Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. “Israel’s autism research scene isn’t Twitter-savvy, but I’ll do my best to represent it.”

A highlight of the science day during the three-day meeting, there was a main conference of Diana Robinsdirector and professor at the AJ Drexel Autism Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during early screening, Koller reported.

And the last day of the meeting featured roundtables that raised “difficult questions re: embed standardized data collection processes across the public sector + focus on fostering a truly national community of researchers working collaboratively,” Koller wrote. “No clear answers but a lot of potential.”

The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) and others retweeted Spectrumthe new profile of Petrus de Vries, Sue Struengmann Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa, who talks about her efforts to build a strong autism research community in Africa. De Vries is also a candidate for president-elect of INSAR.

Anne Rouxresearcher at Drexel University, tweeted about the launch of the policy impact project, an effort to “link autism research and policy to improve service systems”. The initiative hopes to solicit input from “researchers who want to translate the findings and policy makers who want to use the research in their process”.

That’s it for this week’s Community Newsletter! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in the area of ​​autism research, feel free to email [email protected]

Cite this article:

Comments are closed.