Category Archives: Research

Missense Mutations identify neurodevelopmental disorder genes

A recent publication from Dr. Evan Eichler, Dr. Raphe Bernier and others discuss how missense mutations may identify neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism.   A missense mutation is when a single DNA letter is swapped with another, altering one amino acid in a protein.  Although many missense mutations are harmless, Eichler, Bernier and others have identified some potentially harmful missense mutations associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. The research was pusblished in 2017 in Nature Neuroscience.  Spectrum News also discusses the study results with interviews from Dr. Eichler and others involved.

Scan of ‘missense’ mutations marks new suspects for autism risk

 

SCN2A Family Meeting

Two weeks ago a team from the Bernier Lab had the pleasure of flying to Wilmington, Delaware to help facilitate testing for some amazing kiddos affected by disruptive mutations to the gene SCN2A. Our team included our TIGER study coordinator, Morgan Kelly, Post-doc and EEG specialist, Dr. Caitlin Hudac, and our clinical post-doc, Dr. Jessica Peterson!  Dr. Raphe Bernier, the principal investigator of the TIGER study, also came out to the SCN2A family meeting to give a presentation on “Dynamic Behavioral & Neural Patterns Among Children with de novo SCN2A Variants”.

Thank you to the families who participated in the TIGER study during this weekend, we are very grateful to all of you and for those who helped organize and attend the event for make this research possible! Participation involved completion of assessments and collection of EEG.

Some highlights from the conference include seeing scientists and families engaged across both days with presentations made by family members and scientists interspersed, and attending the family meeting dinner, where we were able to meet with other researchers and hear stories from families affected by this genetic event. It was a truly wonderful experience to meet some of the families who are invested in seeing SCN2A research advance, thank you for welcoming us and we look forward to future collaborative work!

Follow the link to learn more about the SCN2A family conference: https://www.scn2a.org/single-post/scn2aconference

INSAR Summer Institute Schedule 2017

The International Society for Autism Research is hosting a free series of six weekly seminars related to culture and diversity in autism research. These seminars are from July 13 to August 24. Check out the INSAR website for more detailed information!

Registration is free and available worldwide to those interested in autism research.

This year’s focus will be related to culture and diversity in autism research.

13 JulyDr. Aubyn Stahmer (University of California, Davis MIND Institute) opens with a seminar on access to services and services across diverse communities.

27 JulyDr. Elizabeth Pellicano (University College London) is leading a seminar about ethical considerations, specifically ethics of autism research and the relation of ethics to research participation.

3 AugustDr. Roy Richard Grinker (George Washington University) will provide an anthropological view of ASD.

10 August Dr. Sue Fletcher-Watson (The University of Edinburgh) takes us through what we need to know and what we do not yet know about bilingualism in ASD.

17 August Dr. Jennifer Singh (Georgia Institute of Technology) will provide an overview about the structural inequalities in the diagnosis and services for ASD.

24 August Dr. Nidhi Singhal (National Centre for Autism India) concludes the series with a presentation on topics related to autism research in India, particularly epidemiological aspects and the development of screening and diagnostic tools. Â

What Grandmothers Can Teach Science About Autism

Spectrum News and The Atlantic published a great article about how women who have raised a child with autism may be able to spot subtle signs of the condition in their grandchildren.  The RabLab’s Dr. Jen Gerdts is also interviewed in this article!

The article explores research that examines autism-like behavior in relatives of someone on the autism spectrum, like a sibling, an aunt or a grandparent, and the genetic inheritance that may or may not be related.  It looks into the idea that traits that may seem like quirks in a family are perhaps stemmed from mutations that contribute to autism, and likewise spontaneous (de novo) mutations that are associated with autism appear to come from a lineage of a family without a history of autism.  The article discusses past and present research that explores the inheritance and non-iheritance of genetic mutations associated with autism, and what we can learn from relatives of those diagnosed with ASD.

You can find the full article here.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/11/grandmas-and-autism/507446/?utm_source=eb

How to Navigate the Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism: Tips for Families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds

How to Navigate the Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism: Tips for Families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds.

By: Megan Frye, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

multicultureObtaining a diagnosis and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be an overwhelming process. Complications with long waitlists for initial diagnosis particularly in rural areas, confusing policies regarding insurance billing and navigating a multitude of appointments, and difficulties coordinating care between therapeutic and educational settings can create an isolating and confusing experience for many children and families. These issues often add additional stress to the daily ups and downs of caring for an individual with ASD.

The situation is only made more complex for families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds for whom English is a second language. The ability to communicate information about your child, your family culture, and your concerns and hopes as a parent is valuable and important in ensuring you receive the support you need and your child receives the highest quality of care possible. Thankfully, many professionals, legislators and families are working together in efforts to improve the system of diagnosis and treatment.

Below are several tips that linguistically diverse families may find helpful in navigating the process of diagnosis and treatment for autism:

1.Ask for an interpreter. It is your legal right to access care in your first language for free. You may request a provider that speaks your language. If one is unavailable the services of an interpreter can be provided to help you communicate with your child’s care team. All major hospitals provide these services. For assistance with making appointments at Seattle Children’s Hospital call: 1-866-583-1527. Mention your first language, your child’s name, the provider with whom you’d like to speak.

2.Confirm what your insurance will and will not cover. Visits with a psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health therapist or behavioral consultant are usually billed as mental health services. Some insurance companies cover mental health services the same as medical services, others do not. Important questions to ask your insurance company include:

  • How many mental health visits are allowed per year?
  • Can my child see any provider or do I have to choose from a list?
  • Are there any diagnoses that are not covered?

3.Share about your family and culture. Communicate your family’s beliefs and cultural understanding of what is happening for your child. Share what you believe are your child’s strengths and challenges. Remember, you know your child better than anyone else.

4.Ask for clarification. If you don’t understand what the provider is asking or if you have questions about what they are saying, it’s ok to have the doctor slow down and clarify or give examples.

5.Ask if there are materials and resources available in your first language. Many resources are available in Spanish and other languages and providers will be able to point you in the direction of books and other resources. The Autism Speaks website provides resources in several languages. Resources in Spanish can be found here.

6.Use parent education and support resources. Getting an autism diagnosis and navigating treatment is life-altering. You are not alone. Speaking with other families who may be facing the same challenges and gaining support for yourself is essential in better supporting your child. Ask your provider about connecting you with other families from your language/culture through groups and other supports.

  • More information about Parent-to-Parent support groups in Spanish.
  • The group Padres Unidos is a support group in Spanish for parents who have children with special needs. This group meets the third Friday of every month from 6-8pm at Child Strive 14 E Casino Road, Bldg. A Everett, WA 98208.

7.Request assistance with making scheduling more convenient if possible. Ask your provider if there are appointments available in the early mornings or evenings or if several visits with different providers can happen during one day to limit the need to take several days off of your own work schedule.

8.Prioritize Interventions. Request that your provider help you prioritize interventions and treatments that are the most important first, if your ability to attend multiple weekly appointments is limited.

9.Connect with school. Inquire if there are services that might be provided at your child’s school or in the home setting to limit the need to travel to clinic for services.

10.Encourage provider collaboration. Request that providers communicate directly with each other rather than you having to pass along the message. Encourage community-based providers to connect with your child’s school.

11.Be an active part of your child’s treatment. Ask questions, speak up, advocate. You’re the number one expert on your child. Your involvement and expertise is a key component to their care. They are lucky to have you and they will benefit from having you involved!

 

¿Cómo enfrentar el diagnóstico y tratamiento del Trastorno del Espectro Autista? Consejos para las familias de diversos orígenes culturales y linguisticos

Por: Megan Frye, PhD, Psicóloga Infantil

multiculture

La obtención de un diagnóstico y tratamiento para el trastorno del espectro autista (TEA) puede ser un proceso abrumador. Las complicaciones con largas listas de espera para el diagnostico inicial sobre todo en las zonas rurales, confundiendo las políticas con respecto a la facturación del seguro y la navegación por una multitud de citas, y dificultades para coordinar la atención entre los ajustes terapéuticos y educativos pueden crear una experiencia de aislamiento y confucion para muchos niños y familias. Estos problemas suelen anadir tensión adicional a las subidas y bajadas diarias de cuidar a una persona con TEA. La situación solo se hace mas compleja para las familias de diversos orígenes culturales y linguisticos para quienes el ingles es un segundo idioma. La capacidad de comunicar información sobre su hijo, su cultura familiar, y sus preocupaciones y esperanzas como padres es valiosa e importante para garantizar que reciba el apoyo que necesita su hijo y su que reciba la mas alta calidad de atención posible. Agradecidamente, muchos profesionales, legisladores y familias trabajan juntos en los esfuerzos para mejorar el sistema de diagnóstico y tratamiento.

A continuación se presentan algunos consejos que las familias de habla hispana pueden encontrar útiles en la navegación del proceso de diagnostico y tratamiento de TEA.

1.Solicite un intérprete. Es su derecho legal para acceder a la atención en su primer idioma de forma gratuita. Usted puede solicitar un proveedor de habla española. Si uno no está disponible los servicios de un intérprete se pueden proporcionar para ayudarle a comunicarse con el equipo de atención de su hijo en español. Todos los grandes hospitales ofrecen estos servicios. Para obtener ayuda con hacer citas en el Hospital de Niños de Seattle (Seattle Children’s Hospital): Llame Nuestra línea gratis de Interpretación Telefónica 1866-583-1527. Menciónele al interprete el nombre de la persona o departamento que necesita.

2.Confirmar lo que debe y no debe cubrir su seguro. Visitas con un psicólogo, psiquiatra, terapeuta de salud mental o consultor de comportamiento suelen ser facturados como servicios de salud mental. Algunas compañías de seguros cubren los servicios de salud mental lo mismo que los servicios médicos, otros no lo hacen. Las preguntas importantes para hacerle a su compañía de seguros incluyen:

  • ¿Cuántas visitas de salud mental se permiten por año?
  • ¿Puede mi hijo ver a cualquier proveedor o tengo que elegir de una lista?
  • ¿Hay algunos diagnósticos que no están cubiertos?

3.Compartir acerca de su familia y la cultura. Comunicar las creencias de su familia y la comprensión cultural de lo que está sucediendo a su hijo. Compartir lo que usted cree son las fortalezas y desafíos de su hijo. Recuerde, usted conoce a su hijo mejor que nadie.

4.Pida una aclaración. Si usted no entiende lo que el proveedor está pidiendo o si tiene preguntas acerca de lo que están diciendo, que está bien tener el médico reduzca la velocidad y aclarar o dar ejemplos.

5.Pregunte si hay materiales y recursos disponibles en su lengua materna. Muchos recursos están disponibles en español y los proveedores serán capaces de señalar en la dirección de los libros y otros recursos. Un recurso útil Sobre el autismo en Español es el sitio de web de ‘Autism Speaks.

6.Utilizar los recursos de educación y apoyo para padres. Conseguir un diagnóstico de autismo y la navegación por el tratamiento altera la vida. Usted no está solo. Hablando con otras familias que pueden estar enfrentando los mismos desafíos y la obtención de apoyo para usted es fundamental para apoyar mejor a su hijo. Pregunte a su proveedor acerca de que la conexión con otras familias de la lengua / cultura a través de grupos y otros soportes.

  • Puede encontrar más información sobre los grupos de apoyo de padre a padre en español accediendo.
  • El grupo de Padres Unidos es un grupo de apoyo en español para los padres que tienen niños con necesidades especiales. Este grupo se reúne el tercer viernes de cada mes de 6-8 pm en Child Strive 14 E Casino Road, Bldg. A Everett, WA 98208.

7.Solicita ayuda con la fabricación de programación más conveniente si es posible. Pregunte a su proveedor si hay citas disponibles por la mañana temprano o por la noche o si varias visitas con diferentes proveedores pueden suceder durante un día para limitar la necesidad de llevar varios días fuera de su propio horario de trabajo.

8.Prioriza Las intervenciones. Solicita que su profesional medico le ayudara a priorizar las intervenciones y tratamientos que podría ser la primera más importante si su capacidad de asistir a varias citas semanales es limitada.

9.Conectar con la escuela. Preguntar si hay servicios que pueden ser proporcionados en la escuela de su hijo o en el hogar para limitar las necesidades de viajar a la clínica para recibir servicios.

10.Fomentar la colaboración proveedor. Solicita que los proveedores se comunican directamente entre ellos en lugar de tener que usted transmita el mensaje.  Formenta a los proveedores basados en la comunidad para conectar con la escuela de su hijo también.

11.Sea una parte activa del tratamiento de su hijo. Hacer preguntas, hablar, defender. Usted es el número uno experto en su hijo. Su implicación y la experiencia es un componente clave para su cuidado. Son muy afortunado de tenerte y que se beneficiarán de tener que participar!