Forming Strong Cultural Identities in an Intersecting Space of Indigeneity and Autism

As the Secwepemc child of a Sixties Scoop survivor, with generations of grandparents who survived residential school (and an unknown number of relatives who did not), I inherited, like all Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada, the legacies of colonization. A key difference in the lives of Indigenous Peoples like me compared to non-Indigenous peoples is that these colonial legacies were never intended to protect the humanity and interest of Indigenous Peoples. They were designed to systematically eradicate and erase our culture and very existence. As if this attack on the human spirit is not enough, I was born with autism and, similarly, immediately into the outgroup of Canadian society at large. Post by BCcampus Research Fellow Heather Simpson, Justice Institute of British Columbia A person with neurodivergence, like Indigeneity, is often viewed as “other”—a lesser, sub-human existence. Again, like Indigenous Peoples, people with autism’s identity and very existence is threatened by the ableist, exclusionary, cis-hetero White male normative dominance that permeates Western society and results in everything from everyday bullying and micro-aggressions, to pervasive systemic and discriminatory policies, to disproportionate levels of mental illness, disease, suicide, and other forms violence, including genocide. Indigenous People with autism are among […]

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Autism Changes Brain’s White Matter over Time

CHICAGO, Nov. 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Researchers at Yale University analyzing specialized MRI exams found significant changes in the microstructure of the brain’s white matter in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to a control group, according to research being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). The changes were most pronounced in the region that facilitates communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. “One in 68 children in the U.S. is affected by ASD, but high variety in symptom manifestation and severity make it hard to recognize the condition early and monitor treatment response,” said Clara Weber, postgraduate research fellow at Yale University School of Medicine. “We aim to find neuroimaging biomarkers that can potentially facilitate diagnosis and therapy planning.” Researchers reviewed diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) brain scans from a large dataset of patients between the age of six months and 50 years. DTI is an MRI technique that measures connectivity in the brain by detecting how water moves along its white matter tracts. Water molecules diffuse differently through the brain, depending on the integrity, architecture and presence of barriers in tissue. “If you think […]

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Autism pioneer Dr. Valerie Scaramella-Nowinski

Raised to value service above self, Dr. Valerie Scaramella-Nowinski has dramatically improved the lives of countless children on the autism spectrum. For parents of children on the autism spectrum, and those impacted by similar developmental disorders, the worst four words you can hear are “don’t expect too much.” So much of the uncertainty facing these families is owed to the broad nature of autism. It’s not a single, uniform disorder, but rather an umbrella diagnosis comprising a range of conditions affecting speech, the sensory system and social interactions. Some neurodiverse children may have a small communications delay compared to their neurotypical peers, while others may be completely nonverbal and exhibit repetitive behaviors. The severity of these symptoms often varies wildly from child to child, and the worst of the effects can be lifelong. AAG_3559 Research doesn’t point to a single cause for autism, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors. And the disorder has no genetic or biological markers for early detection, unlike prenatal screenings for Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis. Most neurodiverse children receive their diagnosis based on symptoms that manifest at 24 months old. Over the past two decades, the prevalence of autism has risen dramatically […]

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The Chase star Anne Hegerty tells Steph McGovern it’s ‘good’ other celebs are talking about their autism diagnosis

The Chase’s Anne Hegerty tells Steph McGovern it’s “good” other celebs are talking about their autism diagnosis. Anne Hegerty was diagnosed with autism in 2005 – when she was 45. The TV personality – who is best known as one of ‘The Chasers’ and also went into the I’m A Celeb jungle in 2018 – appeared on Tuesday’s Steph’s Packed Lunch to talk about her recent panto role. During the interview, Steph McGovern asked Anne how she felt about more celebrities openly talking about their autism diagnosis in later life. In the last few months, Christine McGuinness and Melanie Sykes have both opened up about their own diagnosis of autism during adulthood. The broadcaster asked: “The last time you were on we talked a little bit about autism, and the fact you have autism… is it nice or how do you feel seeing other people coming out [about their diagnosis]? “I’ve never made a secret of it,” Anne replied: “It’s just that Rita [Simons] had read about it and she asked me about it in the jungle and I’m like yeah fine, you know, happy to talk about it. I think it is good there are more people coming […]

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What are the signs and symptoms of Autism in adults?

What are the signs of Autism in adults? Misunderstood and underdiagnosed for decades, autism in adults is finally receiving the attention it needs. Thanks to the bravery of high profile figures such as Melanie Sykes, 51, and Christine McGuinness, 33, both diagnosed later on in life, the condition is becoming more understood. According to the British Medical Association , one in 100 children in the UK have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. However, the figure is likely far more as the diagnosis process is arduous and flawed, many are likely to have been left behind. It can take up to nine years for an adult diagnosis of autism, but in that time individuals can be left feeling lost, alone and suffer from mental issues as they struggle to cope. Many speak of having their status confirmed as life changing, with one adult with autism speaking to the Guardian likening her diagnosis to a ‘rebirth’. Signs of autism in adults Autism is a condition that can impact an individual’s ability to communicate, concentrate, cope with certain social situations and can make some autistic people sensitive to things like bright light and loud noises. If you haven’t been diagnosed as […]

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Study finds no significant causal link between gut microbiome and autism

Is a difference in gut microflora a factor leading to autism, or is autism causing the microbial changes? The hypothesis that gut health influences autism has been turned on its head by a new Australian study. Based on the analysis of microflora in children, the study indicates that rather than playing a causal role, these microbiome differences are the result of restricted diets associated with autism. Our understanding of the gut-brain connection and the role our microbiome plays in a whole raft of health conditions is growing rapidly. Alongside autism, obesity , inflammatory bowel diseases , autoimmune diseases and depression have all been linked to what’s going on in our gut. Generally, a more diverse microbiome has been associated with better health. A correlation between autism and alterations in our microbiota has been confirmed by animal and human studies. One mouse study showed that alterations in the microbiome promote autism-like behaviors , and clinical trials using fecal transplants have been used to “treat” or minimize autism by improving the gut microbiome. It’s well understood that gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea and abdominal pain are common in children with autism. Studies suggest approximately 40 percent of children with […]

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TV presenter Melanie Sykes announces ‘life-affirming’ autism diagnosis

Sykes says being diagnosed as autistic at 51 has helped explain struggles during broadcasting career The TV presenter Melanie Sykes has announced she has been diagnosed as autistic at the age of 51. In an email to readers of her magazine the Frank, Sykes opened up about the “life-changing” diagnosis and her relief that things in her life had finally started to “make sense”. “This week has been truly life-changing, or rather, life-affirming,” she wrote in the email, originally obtained by the Sun . “As many of you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with autism late Thursday afternoon. And then, finally, so many things made sense.” She said her diagnosis had come as a huge relief and was one she would be celebrating. “I now have a deeper understanding of myself, my life, and the things I have endured.” She described the previously unexplainable struggles she had faced throughout her career, including while working on live TV. “The sensitivities around working in television have come up,” she said. “I have always struggled with earpieces, what they call talkback, where you hear what the director says. I have often accidentally responded to the director in my ear, […]

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Signs of autism in adults explained as Christine McGuinness shares diagnosis

Christine McGuinness and her three children have autism Christine McGuinness has been diagnosed with autism at the age of 33. The model is married to TV presenter Paddy McGuinness and has been known for her campaigning as all three of their children have been diagnosed with autism . She said: “I have been confirmed as autistic. It’s strange, but I’ve noticed there are little hints throughout my life that I’m autistic. “My issues with food, my social struggles, how hard I find it to make friends and stay focused, and my indecisiveness.” She joins several people known to be on the autism spectrum like Chris Packham , Sir Anthony Hopkins and Greta Thunberg . Autism is a common condition and can go undiagnosed in some people. Many adults are also unaware that they are on the autism spectrum. Those wishing to seek advice and guidance should visit the National Autistic Society here . So what is autism and what are the signs of it? What is autism? Christine and Paddy McGuinness It is estimated that one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum in some way. There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK. ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders’ […]

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Scientists discover biological mechanisms caused by deficits in high-risk autism gene

image: Actin (yellow) and tubulin (red) distribution in young mouse cortical neurons deficient in giant ankyrin-B CHAPEL HILL, NC – Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and colleagues have demonstrated that rare variants in the ANK2 gene, consistently found in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), can alter architecture and organization of neurons, potentially contributing to autism and neurodevelopmental comorbidities. The discovery, published in the journal eLife , was led by Damaris Lorenzo, PhD , an assistant professor in the UNC Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and member of the UNC Neuroscience Center and the UNC Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center . ANK2 instructs neurons and other cell types how to make ankyrin-B , a protein with multiple functions in the nervous system. ANK2 encodes for various versions (isoforms) of ankyrin-B through a process known as alternatively splicing, whereby portions of the protein are excluded in the final molecules. Mammals, such as mice and humans, express the full-size (giant) ankyrin-B isoform only in neurons; another highly abundant isoform half its size is found in virtually every type of cell and organ. Multiple genetic studies have consistently identified rare variants in […]

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UB researchers discover how a top-ranking risk gene for autism spectrum disorder causes seizures

“These results have revealed the critical role of a top-ranking autism spectrum disorder risk factor in regulating synaptic gene expression and seizures, which provides insights into treatment strategies for related brain diseases. ” UB researchers have revealed the biological mechanisms behind a key risk gene that plays a role in a number of brain diseases, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They have also discovered a method of potentially rescuing some of the comorbidities that this risk gene causes. The preclinical research, published last week in Nature Communications, focuses on a gene known as ASH1L. Large-scale human genetic studies have identified ASH1L as a high-risk gene for ASD, and conditions that sometimes accompany it, such as epilepsy, Tourette syndrome and intellectual disability. But exactly how the loss of function of ASH1L contributes to all of these diseases with overlapping symptoms has remained largely unknown. Led by Zhen Yan, senior author and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, the team was motivated to do the study after its initial finding that ASH1L expression is significantly decreased in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of postmortem tissues from ASD patients. The […]

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