Neighborhood E-newsletter: Publish-traumatic stress in older autistic individuals, Michael Rutter’s legacy | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Hello and welcome to the community newsletter! I am your host, Chelsey B. Coombs, the engagement editor of Spectrum.

The first study, which sparked an online exchange this week, looked at the association between autism characteristics and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults aged 50 and over who scored high on autism characteristics.

Study researcher Gavin Stewart, a postdoctoral fellow at University College London in the UK, tweeted about the work using data from the PROTECT study, a survey of 20,000 adults in the UK

Our new #autism and #aging paper is now available with open access. We examined traumatic life experiences (in childhood and adulthood) and current mental health problems, including PTSD symptoms, in adults over the age of 50. With @HappeLab @GoldAgeLabUK and @ProtectStudy

– Dr. Gavin R. Stewart (@gavrobstew) December 23, 2021

Based on five questions, 251 participants from this cohort met the criteria for autism characteristics. Compared to controls without traits of autism, those in the group with traits of autism were more likely to have trauma and its adverse effects, reflecting earlier results in younger autistic people.

The authors concluded that people with more autistic traits should have better access to psychological support to help prevent trauma-related conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

Brittany N. Hand, assistant professor of health and rehabilitation science at Ohio State University in Columbus, asked Stewart if people with autism characteristics had disclosed their diagnostic status.

I wonder if you asked participants if they are autistic (either self-diagnosed or formally diagnosed)?

– Brittany N. Hand (@BN_Hand) December 23, 2021

Few people said they were officially diagnosed, Stewart replied, but the PROTECT study tried to recruit more people with a diagnosis of autism.

Sorry, that should be <50. Lately there has been work to recruit more autistic people (diagnosed and self-identified) for PROTECT so hopefully this number will increase significantly over time.

– Dr. Gavin R. Stewart (@gavrobstew) December 23, 2021

Roland Zahn, a reader at King’s College London in the UK, tweeted about the importance of the results to clinicians.

great job, really important clinically to be aware of

– Roland Zahn (@roland_zahn) December 23, 2021

The next paper that got a lot of attention on Twitter is an editorial examining the impact child psychiatrist Sir Michael Rutter had on science and society. Rutter, whose work helped show that genetics play a large role in autism, died on October 23 at the age of 88.

New #FreeAccess @TheJCPP Editorial ” The Giant’s Shoulders ‘: Michael Rutter’s Influence on #Science and Understanding Society’ by Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, @PascoFearon and Professor Stephen Scott.
Please share. @GMilavic @ edst0026 @Tamsin_J_Ford

– Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (@TheJCPP) January 5, 2022

The article highlights Rutter’s commitment to using scientific data to challenge others – for example, debunking the “refrigerator mother” theory who tried to associate autism with an emotionally unavailable mother.

“Although he never politically agitated for it or even explicitly stated it as a goal, Mike’s work was motivated by the desire for social reform and created the scientific catalyst for such reforms,” ​​write the authors of the editorial, all of his former colleagues.

Tony Charman, a professor of clinical child psychology at King’s College London, tweeted it was a “balanced and insightful tribute”.

Wonderfully balanced and insightful tribute to Mike Rutter from ESB @PascoFearon and SS in @TheJCPP Editorial: “The Giant’s Shoulders”: Understanding Michael Rutter’s Impact on Science and Society

– Tony Charman (@TonyASDorAFC) January 2, 2022

Gordana Milavic, Chair of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Counseling Psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital in London, tweeted that it was a “must read!”

This excellent editorial asks why the legacy of Sir Michael Rutter continues. His role in the success of JCPP has been formative. It is a must! @RSMPsyc @TheBJPsych @RcpsychCAP @PascoFearon @ DrElaineLockha1 @ Derektracy1 @acamh

– Gordana Milavic (@GMilavic) January 5, 2022

Sign up for the next Spectrum webinar featuring Lancet Commission Co-Chairs: Tony Charman and Catherine Lord, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Education at the University of California, Los Angeles. They will talk about the commission’s recommendations and the use of the term “deep autism” to refer to autistic people with intellectual disabilities, impaired communication skills, or both. They will talk about the recommendations of the commission and the use of the term “profound autism”. to refer to autistic people with intellectual disabilities, impaired communication skills, or both.

That’s it for this week’s community newsletter! If you have suggestions for interesting social contributions in the field of autism research, please email


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