In 2016, the results of a trial led by Professor Jonathan Green from the University of Manchester showed long-term improvement of autism symptoms in children for the first time. But what if we could reduce the severity of these symptoms by acting even earlier? In National Autism Awareness Month, Jonathan describes why the results of his new collaborative study give cause for optimism.
Jonathan with one of his study participants. Image credit: Jonathan Green
Intense scientific work to understand autism and its causes has continued ever since it was first identified over 70 years ago. But good quality research to develop effective interventions has only really accelerated since the turn of the century.
My research focuses on helping parents of children with autism communicate with their child. We work with parents, using video feedback techniques, to help them understand and respond to their child’s communication style.
For world mental health day, Professor Sir Michael Owen, Director of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, describes how genetics is changing the way we study psychiatric disorders – and our approach to biomedical research as a whole.
Image copyright: Mike Owen
We’re learning more and more about the genetics and biology behind psychiatric disorders, and one of the things this is telling us is that we need better diagnostic approaches.
In psychiatry we use diagnostic categories such as ‘schizophrenia’, based on clinical knowledge, to define sets of signs and symptoms in the clinic. This gives us an idea of what course the condition will take and its outcome. But these categories need to be more precise so the advances in understanding can be translated into better treatments.