NeuRA-Profile-2016 - page 11

Understanding thedifference
betweenchildrenwithautism
mayhelp topredict their
developmental outcomes.
AUTISM
Everypersonwithautism isunique.
But inorder tounderstandwhat
causes autismanddevelop treatments,
researchersneed tofigureoutwhat
different peoplewithautismmight have
incommonaswell.
“Oneapproach is to look for subgroups
of individualswithin theumbrellaof
theautism spectrumdisorderswhomay
share specificneurobiological traits that
might be related toclinical outcomes,”
says study leader, ProfRhoshel Lenroot.
The research team is conductinga study
inchildrenwithautismwhoareaged
between8and 12years.
“Oneof thedifferences that canbe seen
inchildrenwithautism is that somehave
gradually less severe symptoms as they
becomeadolescents,” she says. “Others
maydevelopnewproblems suchas
worseningdepressionor irritability, and
others stay the same.”
Theage rangeof 8 to 12years is
important because it is a timewhen
factors related topubertal development
are starting toaffect thebrain. In this
study, Prof Lenroot and teammembers
areobtainingmagnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) andothermeasuresof
clinical andcognitive function, and then
following thechildren for ayear to see
whether any factors at baselinemay
predict how theyaredoingayear later.
“Hopefullywewillmove towardsbetter
understandingandanappreciationof
thediversityof peoplewithautism,
not only in researchbut also in their
contributions to societyas awhole,”
Prof Lenroot concluded.
DrChrisMulligan is calling for children
who ridemotorbikes, quads andother
off-roadvehicles toparticipate inanew
studyaimedat preventingcrashes and
serious injury.
Thefindingsof a recentQueensland
Coroner’s inquiry intoquadbikedeaths
highlighted thepotential risksof children
ridingmotorbikes andquads. Thereare
more than 100 seriousoff-roadcrashes
per year and themajorityof thosewhoare
killedor seriously injuredarechildren.
Unlikeadults, children riding
motorcycles andquadsoftendon’t have
thephysical strengthor cognitive skills
required to safelyoperate largevehicles.
“Childhood injuries anddeaths from
motorbikeandoff-roadvehiclecrashes
affect childrenon farms and in rural
settings farmore frequently thanchildren
inmetropolitanareas,” saysDrMulligan.
“Weknow that thesevehicles areoften
essential farmingequipment, butweneed
tofindout how theyarebeingused in
order to reduce thenumber of injuries.”
“Therehavebeena rangeof proposals
aimedat reducing injuries suchas
changes to licensingormandatory
helmet use,” hecontinues, “butwedon’t
yet knowwhat factorswillworkbest,
which iswhy this study is important.”
By takingaquick survey, parents can
helpus identify thebiggest risk factors
for crashingand theareaswherewecan
prevent themost injuries.
DrMulliganandcolleagues fromNeuRA
arecalling for theparentsof children
16yearsor underwho ridemotorbikes
or off-roadvehicles to takea short
online surveyaskingabout their riding
behaviours, equipment and training.
If youare interested in taking thesurvey
go to: neura.edu.au/offroad
Prof Lenroot isusingmagnetic resonance imaging
in theautism spectrumdisorder study
CHILD MOTOR SAFETY
Anew study isaimedatpreventing serious injury.
Childrendon’t have thephysical strength
or cognitive skills required to safelyoperate
largevehicles suchasquadbikes
CHILDHOOD—
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