The Bernier Lab’s newest publication focuses on early auditory perception and receptive language in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We used a speech learning task along with electroencephalogram (EEG) recording to learn more about how individuals with autism process speech sounds in the brain. This study showed us that while neurotypical kids show a decreased response only in the left hemisphere as words become more familiar, kids with autism show a decreased response across both hemisphere as they learn words. This effect was directly related to the autistic kids’ actual receptive language vocabulary. In other words, kids with autism who had better receptive language showed more decreased responses (in both hemispheres) as the new speech became more familiar.
The Bernier Lab’s Dr. Anne Arnett, Sandy Trinh, and Dr. Rapahel Bernier recently published an article titled ‘The state of research on the genetics of autism spectrum disorder: methodological, clinical and conceptual progress‘ in Psychology (Volume 27, June 2019, 1-5).
In this article, members of the Bernier Lab summarize the progress we have made in parsing the heterogeneity of ASD through genetics research. In our genotype-first approach, we have begun to identify genetics based subtypes of ASD. The utility of identifying these subtypes ranges from identifying critical gene and protein networks, to implications for pharmacological interventions for ASD. In short, we have made a lot of progress in the recent decades and the Bernier Lab is working together with some other fantastic investigators to execute cutting-edge research on ASD.
This week, over 4,000 athletes and coaches traveled from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to compete in events at the 2018 Special Olympics USA National Games, hosted in Seattle, WA. After beginning on July 1st, the USA National Games are now on the fourth day of events.
Founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968, the first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago. The Games hosted about 1,000 athletes in more than 200 events. Now, 50 years later, the Special Olympics boasts over 5.3 million athletes from 170 countries. The Special Olympics exists to provide year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, while also continuing their opportunities to develop physical fitness, gain courage, experience joy, and to share their skills with their families, teammates, and communities.
The Special Olympics USA National Games, part of the Special Olympics Movement, hope to use the joy of sports and competition as a catalyst to create social change and to promote a more inclusive community. In May of 2015, the local Special Olympics Washington was awarded the bid to host the 4th quadrennial USA National Games. Of the 4,000 athletes competing in this year’s USA National Games, more than 300 of them are represented by Special Olympics Washington – the largest delegation among state programs.
The University of Washington (UW), along with Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University, is proudly hosting events on its campus, including Powerlifting, Track & Field, and Tennis. This year, staff from the UW Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD), where UW’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD), and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs are based, happily came out to support the athletes and teams at several events as volunteers.
As “Fans in the Stands” volunteers, CHDD staff, including members of the UW Bernier Lab and UW LEND, cheered on the various competing teams, helping to foster a positive and competitive atmosphere for the events and athletes. Announcers politely asked spectators to refrain from booing and yelling, but heavily encouraged them to scream with excitement for all players.
For CHDD staff, volunteering as “Fans in the Stands” was a fun way to support the hardworking athletes during the Special Olympics. Staff, interns, and directors alike all watched excitedly and clapped alongside fans from Minnesota and Florida during the flag football game, and chanted along with the team from Minnesota after their loss, helping to keep spirits high. They also had the opportunity to support the WA women’s basketball team from the local Special Olympics branch and their competitors from the Texas women’s team. Overall, the USA National Games in Seattle are shaping up to be an exciting week of events!
Written by: Daniel Cho, Research Assistant
Check out the link below to watch a new blogcast in Spectrum News where Raphe and Jim discuss sleep on the spectrum! Learn more about possible causes, consequences, and tactics for parents of children with sleep difficulties.
Last week, our lead SPARK study coordinator, Emily, visited the Tri-Cities for the 13th Annual Northwest Autism Conference. This two-day conference is hosted for providers, educators, and family members affected by autism. Presenters covered a range of topics this year including early identification and intervention, adolescence and puberty, and transition skills for adulthood. This was the SPARK study’s second year as a vendor at this event. Emily had a table with study materials for families and providers, and she answered questions from attendees about participating in SPARK and about autism research, in general. It was another great conference year!
This June the Psychiatry Department held it’s Annual Psychiatry Department Meeting, where faculty and staff from across the department gather to learn about the last years and upcoming year’s department profiles (e.g. faculty demographics, funding overviews) the roles and updates from the department administration team (e.g. Research, Grants Management, Human Resources). This year the department meeting was followed by the first-ever Staff Appreciation Event, where staff were invited to lunch and to participate in different activities designed to reach across labs and centers within the department.
Bernier Lab Highlights of this year’s meeting include:
- Recognition of Dr. Raphe Bernier’s promotion to Professor! Congratulations Raphe!
- Raphe Bernier’s video clip where he describes the Autism Blogcasts!
- Micah Pepper’s video clip from managing staff who are part of the Psychiatry Operations Council!
We want to send a special thank you to the Psychiatry Department’s administration team for putting together a great event this year! Some of our staff even got to meet the UW’s most famous celebrity, Dubs!