Zebrafish give new insight to sound sensitivity in autism

These tiny fish are helping scientists understand how the human brain processes sound.

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  • Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by changes in a gene that scientists call the "fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1)" gene. People who have FXS or autism often struggle with sensitivity to sound.
  • According to the research team, FXS is caused by the disruption of a gene. By disrupting that same gene in zebrafish larvae, they can examine the effects and begin to understand more about this disrupted gene in the human brain.
  • Using the zebrafish, Dr. Constantin and the team were able to gather insights into which parts of the brain are used to process sensory information.
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Autistic people's nerve cells differ before birth, new study finds

"Such studies will lead to a better understanding of brain development in both autistic and typical individuals."

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  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.
  • Although a diagnosis of autism can typically be made around the age of 2, the average age for diagnosis in the United States is after 4 years old.
  • A new study shows that the atypical development of autism in human brain cells starts at the very earliest stages of brain organization, which can happen as early as the third week of pregnancy.
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How music therapy benefits the autistic brain

While the benefits of music therapy are well known, more in-depth research explores how music benefits children with autism.

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  • Music is used in many different therapies. Used in conjunction with traditional therapies, music therapy benefits us in a variety of different ways.
  • According to a 2004 study, music intervention used with children and teens with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) can improve their social behaviors, increase focus and attention, and reduce their anxiety and improve body awareness.
  • Various music therapy activities and tools can be used to help improve the quality of life of children with autism.
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What is neurodiversity?

Creating a better understanding by clearing up common misconceptions about the neurodiversity movement.

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  • The neurodiversity movement began in the late 1990s with sociologist Judy Singer.
  • Previously (and in many places, currently), these neurological differences were considered medical deficits.
  • Neurodiversity is the concept that there are many different variations of human functionality and that each and every variation needs to be better understood and respected.
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1 in 6 school children meet criteria for mental disorder diagnosis, according to CDC study

Symptoms of mental illness in children are often dismissed as "going through a phase."

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  • A 2020 CDC study examined mental health symptoms in four different school districts within the United States from 2014-2018. This study found that, based on the reports from both teachers and parents, one in six students showed enough behavioral or emotional symptoms to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder.
  • Mental health conditions or illnesses in children are generally defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviors, social skills, or emotional regulation.
  • Children can develop many of the same mental health conditions as adults, but their symptoms may be different.

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