We are delighted to have receiving funding from the NIMH for a project examining Optimal Outcomes in ASD: Adult Functioning, Predictors, and Mechanisms. This study follows our prior research showing that some individuals show clear-cut Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) prior to age 5, but later lose all symptoms, and have IQ and adaptive skills that are average or higher; we also showed that they appear to be using unique brain networks to achieve this “optimal outcome” (OO).
The new research will further study this OO phenomenon in two cohorts of individuals (comparing OO to groups with ASD and typical development): (1) those we studied in our prior research as teens, and who are now young adults, using online assessments to evaluate how they navigate the difficult transition into independence and young adulthood; and (2) confirming the early presentation of ASD in children who were evaluated and diagnosed by at ages 2-4 years, and who are now in their teens, to permit the identification of early childhood predictors of OO. An MRI study of Cohort 2 will also investigate functional connectivity of specific task-engaged social and language and resting-state networks, to study whether individuals with OO show greater atypicality, specify the functional integration of the circuits involved, and to test our model of compensation.
We are hiring a post-doctoral fellow on this grant and welcome applications; please email Dr. Eigsti for further information.