The main objective of this conference was to update and enhance knowledge related to the accurate recognition, diagnosis and treatment of autism and Asperger’s Disorder. The speakers reviewed the current psychological, neurological, functional imaging, neurotransmitter, and molecular biology models of autism as well as pharmacological, behavioral, educational, and support group treatments of autism.
The conference was very interesting and informative on the recent epidemiological studies about autism. According to Dr. Fombonne, the observed increase in autism prevalence is more likely due to the development of methodological factors that identify more cases of autism at an earlier age and diagnose individuals with autism who previously might not have been included in this category. For instance, individual who we now identify as autistic would have been diagnosed as having Learning Disabilities, Mental Retardation, or ADHD. Consequently, the apparent rise in autism is correlated with a decrease in these types of diagnosis. According to data released in 2007, 1 in 150 children had a diagnosis of ASD in the USA, and we know that this number is rising, but this trend cannot be interpreted as evidence of increase in the incidence, that is, the number of new cases of autism in the population. Dr. Fombonne understands that the hypothesis of an increased incidence is not ruled out because adequate epidemiological data is needed. Another important point that he made was regarding autism and its links with immunization. Epidemiological studies have concluded that autism did not arise through vaccinations and there is no evidence that correlates autism with
Initially, Autism was diagnosed based on educational and behavioral conditions, but etiology remains to be known. According to Buxbaum from the Psychiatry, Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Neuroscience Dept. at
A presentation that struck my attention was on Oxytocin and Vasopressin and their implications for Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to a randomized double-blind study at Mount Sinai Medical School that tested the effects of Oxytocin, repetitive behaviors in autism spectrum disorders may be related to abnormalities in the Oxytocin system, and may be partially ameliorated by synthetic Oxytocin infusion.
In addition, they reviewed the novel treatment with Trichuris Suis Ova (TSO), which involves the use of eggs of the parasite Trichuris and has become a hypothesis to treat autistic individuals. Some studies suggest that exposure to helminthes may be able to prevent or treat human diseases such colitis, autoimmune diabetes, autoimmune encephalitis, Crohn’s disease and autism. Stewart Johnson presented the case of his 16 years old son diagnosed with autism who after exploring all possible treatments (
Oxytocin: A hormone released from the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland that stimulates the contraction of smooth muscle of the uterus during labor and facilitates ejection of milk from the breast. Vasopressin: A hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland that constricts blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and reduces excretion of urine.