illustration of a brain divided into 4 puzzle pieces
Why Autism Therapies Have an Evidence Problem
Some experts argue that better trials are needed before putting interventions into practice.
ABOVE: © ISTOCK.COM, tasha vector
Why Autism Therapies Have an Evidence Problem
Why Autism Therapies Have an Evidence Problem

Some experts argue that better trials are needed before putting interventions into practice.

Some experts argue that better trials are needed before putting interventions into practice.

ABOVE: © ISTOCK.COM, tasha vector

autism

illustration of multiple brain scan images
Power Shortages Dim Results of Many Neuroimaging Studies
Angie Voyles Askham | Mar 17, 2022
Low participant numbers render the results of many studies based on brain scans unreliable, an analysis finds.
Illustration of scientists collaborating
How to Bring the Public into the Scientific Process
Amanda Heidt | Mar 14, 2022
A new wave of research is recruiting patients and other members of the public to serve as equal partners, bringing fresh perspectives to research on diseases and other conditions.
illustration of neurons in blue with synapses lighting up
Gut Molecule Linked to Decreased Myelination in Mouse Brains
Angie Voyles Askham | Feb 17, 2022
A study shows that a molecule produced by intestinal microbes can enter the brain and that its presence is also associated with altered brain connectivity.
Deborah Nickerson
Genome Pioneer Deborah Nickerson Dies at 67
Amanda Heidt | Feb 9, 2022
The University of Washington researcher leveraged data from the Human Genome Project to identify genes underlying various health conditions and advance precision medicine.
Microscopy image showing patches of magenta and green
Three Autism-Linked Genes Converge on Tweaks to Cells’ Timing
Angie Voyles Askham | Feb 3, 2022
The genes are involved in pacing the development of inhibitory and excitatory neurons. An imbalance in these two types of signaling is thought to play a role in autism.
Artist's impression of the human microbiome
Diet Implicated in Autism-Microbiome Link
Ruth Williams | Nov 11, 2021
The unbalanced gut flora present in some people with autism is not a driver of the condition but rather a consequence of eating behaviors characteristic of the condition, a new study claims.
Man in glasses smiling, looking off camera
Legendary Child Psychiatrist Michael Rutter Dies
Lisa Winter | Nov 10, 2021
He discovered that autism had strong genetic links.
SYNGAP1 helps neurons eliminate old synapses and form new ones after a novel experience (left and center left)—a process weakened in mice missing a copy of the gene (center right and right).
Autism-Linked Gene SYNGAP1 Molds Synaptic Plasticity, Learning
Angie Voyles Askham | Oct 26, 2021
The finding may help to explain why people with SYNGAP1 mutations tend to have learning difficulties and a high tolerance for pain.
One white mouse with red eyes runs on a blue exercise wheel, while another mouse stands with front paws on the wheel
Serious Infections Linked to Autism: Study
Abby Olena | Sep 17, 2021
In both a mouse model and the hospital records of more than 3 million children, researchers found a connection between strong immune activation in males and later symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
A series of brain scans on a black background
How Scientists Are Tackling Brain Imaging’s Replication Problem
Angie Voyles Askham | Jul 9, 2021
Researchers who spoke with Spectrum say that while brain imaging tools have their limitations, they still hold promise in helping to unlock the brain’s secrets. 
illustration of a scientist carrying a test tube and leaping over a large coronavirus while carrying two children on her back
Pandemic Pressures May Drive Young Scientists Away from Autism Research
Grace Huckins | Jun 18, 2021
For researchers who work with study participants in person, lockdowns made it impossible to obtain fresh data, a survey finds.
aripiprazole ability autism spectrum behavior review
Spectrum Reporting Prompts New Review of Common Drug
Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky | Feb 11, 2021
The review of more than two dozen studies finds aripiprazole has side effects and does not change core autism features, but parents report improvements in self-injury, tantrums, and other challenging behaviors.
The Promise of Scientific Partnerships with People on the Spectrum
Laura Dattaro | Jan 18, 2021
Five collaborations involving autistic scientists and experts are advancing autism research, from lending support for theories of the condition to shoring up trials of new treatments.
T Cells and Neurons Talk to Each Other
Ashley Yeager | Oct 1, 2020
Conversations between the immune and central nervous systems are proving to be essential for the healthy social behavior, learning, and memory.
autistic researchers spectrum autism spectrum disorder asd
Meet the Autistic Scientists Redefining Autism Research
Rachel Nuwer | Jun 11, 2020
Growing ranks of researchers on the spectrum are overcoming barriers—from neurotypical bias to sensory sensitivities—to shape autism science.
twins autism asd behavior autism spectrum disorder genetics environment sweden
Environmental Factors Don’t Explain Rise in Autism Prevalence
Peter Hess | May 22, 2020
A large twin study in Sweden finds genetics has a much larger influence on the odds of an autism diagnosis, and has remained consistent over time.
Savant in the Limelight, 1988–2009
Sukanya Charuchandra | May 1, 2020
Kim Peek, the inspiration for the title character in Rain Man, brought public attention to savant syndrome.
coronavirus covid-19 sars-cov-2 autism research disruption clinical trials asd ucsd university of california san diego spectrum news
Coronavirus’s Effect on Autism Research May Have Lasting Effects
Peter Hess | Mar 18, 2020
Labs are trying to figure out who will care for animals and organoids and some clinical trials are put on hold.
abilify Aripiprazole autism side effects spectrum
How Aripiprazole’s Promise for Treating Autism Fell Short
Hannah Furfaro | Feb 27, 2020
Aripiprazole, marketed as Abilify, is widely thought to be safer than risperidone, the only other drug approved for use in autistic children. A decade’s worth of data suggests that is not true.