Hello and welcome to the community newsletter! I’m your host, Chelsey B. Coombs,, Spectrumengagement editor.
Our first post of the week comes from Autism Research Laboratory in Sheffield at the University of Sheffield in the UK. The lab published a link to its new work in the journal Autism, “Intense Relationship and Love: The Experiences of Autistic Mothers.”
– ShARL (@ShefAutismRes) April 12, 2021
The study was small and included only nine autistic women with children aged 5 to 15 years. All nine had at least one child they believed to be autistic. But the study “represents the first systematic detailed analysis of the experiences of autistic mothers presented from their own perspective,” the researchers wrote.
Semi-structured interviews with women revealed that motherhood was enjoyable and beneficial to them and that they had strong ties to their children. But their experience also differed from the experience of neurotypical mothers, in part because it involved negotiating other people’s misunderstandings and condemning and rejecting. To better serve these women, professionals must learn how autism presents itself in adulthood and how women mask their traits, the researchers wrote.
Jodie Smitten, a graduate student at the University of Sheffield Hallam in the UK, highlighted the part of the newspaper that she considered “so touching”. It said, “The findings show that service providers would benefit from training, ideally led by autistic individuals, on how autism presents itself in adulthood, masking, potential mismatch between emotional experience and facial expressions, sensory needs (especially in pregnancy) , and the problem of double empathy. “
I didn’t get a chance to read the whole article, but this one seemed so touching. With an experience of deep connection that others may have found neurotic! https://t.co/19LmMrwX8g pic.twitter.com/5IXqYAwFI1
– Jodie (@JodieSmitten) April 12, 2021
Amy Pearson, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sunderland in the UK, wrote that it was “a pleasure to see it in the press”.
Beautiful paper and a pleasure to see in print https://t.co/kd89lk0wnB
– Amy Pearson (@DrAmyPearson) April 12, 2021
Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University in Massachusetts, tweeted: “Why does all the best research on #autism come from the UK? I love this paper! “
– Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH (@sbroderfingert) April 13, 2021
Our next topic this week is from Laura Andreae, a senior lecturer in developmental neurobiology at King’s College London in the UK Summarized her new work published in Molecular psychiatry: “Synaptic imbalance specific for cell type and disturbed homeostatic plasticity in the cortical circuits of ASD-associated Chd8 haploinsufficient mice.”
Our paper on synaptic imbalance and homeostatic plasticity in the prefrontal cortex of Chd8 +/- mice has just been published in Molecular Psychiatry! Great work @EllingfordRob +@MJpanasiuk @LorcanBrowne & 3 brilliant UGs (not on twitter), in collaboration with @ mikeyab6872 https://t.co/jKgHBzN15b ???? 1/7 pic.twitter.com/5xnF6iBSX0
– Laura Andreae (@L_andreae) April 9, 2021
The group wanted to study synaptic transmission in the prefrontal cortex of mice that lost one copy of the CHD8 gene. Mutations in CHD8 are strongly associated with autism. Mice had an imbalance in their excitatory and inhibitory transmission, as well as reduced neuronal output with reduced spontaneous burst – effects that varied according to cell type.
“These findings therefore directly imply a CHD8 mutation in a disorder of ASD-relevant circuits in the cortex,” the researchers wrote in the paper.
Andreae also posed the question in her thread: “Could the way neurons respond to network changes be a key differentiator for different mutations in the ASD risk gene ??!”
But Chd8 +/- neurons failed to show this compensatory response and instead had abnormal responses to a different paradigm that had no effect on WT neurons. Could the way neurons respond to network changes be a key differentiator for different mutations in the ASD risk gene ??! 6/7 pic.twitter.com/YKojofFKro
– Laura Andreae (@L_andreae) April 9, 2021
Wei Wen, a postdoctoral researcher at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, wrote that this was a “cool feature of the developmental deficits of homeostatic plasticity in the PFC of Chd8 +/- mice!”
Cool characterization of developmental homeostatic plasticity deficits in PFC Chad8 +/- mice! https://t.co/DYp81KNeW4
– Wei Wen (@ wwneuro0007) April 10, 2021
The Grubb Lab, led by Matt Grubb, a senior lecturer in neuroscience at King’s College London, posted on Twitter that “It’s fantastic to see this wonderful story in the wild”.
Yes! It is fantastic to see this wonderful story in the wild https://t.co/HDJfEkM9qn
– Grubb Lab ??? (@GrubbLab) April 9, 2021
Beatriz Rico, a professor of developmental neurobiology at King’s College London, wrote that the “beautiful” article was a “tour de force”.
– Beatriz Rico (@Rico_lab) April 9, 2021
Our last tweet is coming Kathy Leadbitter, a researcher at the University of Manchester in the UK, whose new paper, “Autistic Self-Advocacy and the Neurodiversity Movement: Implications for Research and Practice of Early Autism Intervention,” was published in Limits in psychology.
Writing this article, Leadbitter tweeted, “I felt like I took things off my chest!”
A new paper is coming out today.
I really enjoyed writing this article with Leneh, Ceri and Martijn. I felt like I took things off my chest! Thanks for @LauraMayCrane for editorial support, @SueReviews i @KristenBott for such constructive (open) reviews and up to @UoMLibrary for open access fees ???? https://t.co/EGLtZmv3mp
– Kathy Leadbitter (@LeadbitterKathy) April 12, 2021
She and her colleagues believe that researchers and those involved in autism intervention must understand and connect with autistic self-advocates and the neurodiversity movement.
“There is a need for greater reflection and articulation about how intervention practices align with the neurodiversity framework and greater emphasis within intervention programs on natural development processes, coping strategies, autonomy, and well-being,” they write.
Lorcan Kenny, head of research at Britain’s national autism research charity, Autistica, recommended that people read the article “if you are an autism researcher interested in interventions or if you are an autistic person who is embarrassed by the word intervention.”
This is a great paper. Read it if you are an autism researcher who is interested in interventions or if you are an autistic person who is embarrassed by the word intervention.
– Lorcan Kenny (@LorcanKenny) April 13, 2021
Nicola Stewart, a school counselor in the UK who works with autistic people, said it was “fantastic work that brings together current research and practice, calling for more autistic engagement”.
“All stakeholders in autism interventions need to understand and actively address the attitudes of autistic people and neurodiversity as a concept and movement.” Fantastic work that combines current research and practice calls for more autistic engagement. https://t.co/FdQ6H0dIAQ
– Nicola Stewart (@sch_counsellor) April 12, 2021
“It’s great that things are changing the way autism research is conducted and showing respect to autistic people,” he tweeted. Caroline Hearst, an autism education trainer at Autism Matters in the UK
Speech therapist specialist Dominique Hill He replied: “Reducing ‘autistic behavior’ does not necessarily improve an individual’s quality of life. Person-centered care is so important. “
This seems to be a very positive article, it’s great that things are changing in the way autism research is conducted and showing respect to autistic people. https://t.co/bb7eArlSco
– Autism is important (@carolinehearst) April 12, 2021
That’s it for this week’s edition Spectrumcommunity newsletter. If you have suggestions for interesting posts on social media that you have seen in the field of autism research this week, feel free to email me at [email protected] See you next week!