Blending in

As the diagnoses of Autism increase, an interesting trend has been noticed. More boys are being diagnosed than girls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disorder is 4.5 times more common among boys than girls. Boys appear to be more vulnerable to the disorder, but the gender gap may not be as wide as it appears. Girls can be better at blending in, according to Dr. Louis Kraus, a psychiatrist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who specializes in autism.

While girls try to fit in, boys tend to be more isolative. This makes it easier to spot autism at an earlier age in boys, whereas girls may not be diagnosed until later on because their symptoms don’t stand out. This can be hindering since girls then may not get the early intervention that they need.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder, characterized by repetitive, compulsive behaviors, a lack of interest in social interaction and little or no eye contact. There is no medical test to diagnose autism. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

Girls appear to have mastered what some call “social camouflaging” according to Amanda Gulsrud who’s a clinical director of the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental Clinic and University of California, LA. She develops school interventions for children with autism. During this study done by UCLA looking at children with and without ASD, the autistic boys stand out as being different. They were very isolated from the other boys, who were in a large group playing sports. The boys with autism were the ones “circling the perimeter of the yard, or off by the tree in the back.”

Girls with autism, on the other hand, don’t stand out as much. They stuck close enough to the other girls to look as if they were socially connected, but in reality they really weren’t. They were flitting in and out of that social connection. Girls with autism tend to be quiet and “behave more appropriately” according to Marisela Huerta, a psychologist with the Weill Cornell Medical College.

Currently, there is a NIH-funded study on girls with autism focusing on genes, brain function and behavior through childhood and adolescence. Preliminary findings suggest there are differences in the brains of girls and boys with the disorder. Brain imaging shows that autistic girls seem to have less of a disruption in the area of the brain that processes social information. Girls may be more likely to understand social expectations, even if they can’t fully meet them.

A late diagnosis of autism is a setback for any child according to Kraus. Research shows the earlier the diagnosis and intervention, the better the outcome. There are many academic and community programs geared to help autistic teens and young adults catch up on their social development. For example, PEERS at UCLA.

What do you think about this research? Do you have an autistic child, teen or young adult in your life? Do you notice differences between autistic boys and girls? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

A lot of this information was found via this article HERE.

Science of Exercise

A recent study has shown how exercise benefits the body on a cellular level. What’s even cooler is that it found what type of exercise that’s best for boosting cell health. Have you heard of High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? If you have, you likely know that it’s one of the best ways to train. Now with recent research, we know it has even more benefits on the cellular level.

Published in Cell Metabolism (2017; 25[3], 581-92), the study included 36 men and 36 women categorized as “young” (18 to 30 years old) or “older” (65 to 80 years old). Each participant was assigned to one of three training programs for 12 weeks: HIIT on an indoor bike; strength training with weights; or a combination of both. Scientists took muscle biopsies from the volunteers (plucked some samples) and then compared the results with those from a sedentary control group.

 

Data showed that the exercise groups experienced improvements in cellular function and in the ability of mitochondria to generate energy. This adds to the evidence that exercise slows the aging process at a cellular level. Muscle mass and insulin sensitivity improved with all three training protocols, but outcomes did vary. “HIIT revealed a more robust increase in gene transcripts than other exercise modalities, particularly in older adults,” according to the authors. HIIT increased mitochondrial capacity by 49% in the young group and 69% in the older group.

“HIIT reversed many age-related differences in the proteome, particularly of mitochondrial proteins in concert with increased mitochondrial protein synthesis.”

For best benefit though, a combination of HIIT and strength training is still recommended since HIIT alone doesn’t increase strength and muscle mass like the strength training protocol does.

What does this all mean for you? The take home message is for aging adults that supervised HIIT is best since it confers the most benefits both metabolically and at the molecular level. This is all according to K. Sreekumaran Nair, MD, PhD from the study linked above.

Do you partake in HIIT training? What about strength training? Do you notice benefits from it? While you may not feel your cells changing, they are the building blocks to living things. And once again: do you even science, bro? 🙂