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Social skills in people with autism could be improved through 2 new drug treatments

| | May 14, 2019

New research seems to show encouraging progress in helping treat the complex neurodevelopmental disorder autism. Two unrelated clinical trials, involving men and children with autism, suggest that using drugs to interact with a hormone called vasopressin could improve the social functioning of people living with the disorder, though one approach may be better than the other.

[Behavioral scientist Karen Parker] and her team have found evidence that children living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as it’s formally known, have less vasopressin circulating in their spinal fluid than children without ASD. They also found that children with ASD with the lowest levels of vasopressin had the most severe symptoms, which can include speech and language difficulties, hypersensitive senses, and poor cognition and IQ.

Related article:  Differences in brain reward system may explain why autistic people are less interested in socialization

Compared to those who received the placebo, they found that, on average, children with ASD given vasopressin had noticeably improved social skills, with little to no apparent side effects. These improvements included better social communication, more accurate recognition of people’s facial emotions, and a better “theory of mind,” or the concept of being able to guess what others are feeling or thinking.

Read full, original post: Intriguing New Drug Therapies May Boost Social Skills in People with Autism

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