Drug Shows Promise in Socialization For Those With Autism

There is new research suggesting targeting a hormone may lead to improved socialization and behavior in those with autism. The hormone known as vasopressin is being studied in both adults and children and there is reason for cautious optimism.

The children’s study looked at 30 kids ages 6 to 12 with autism and after randomly assigning some children to take a vasopressin nasal spray and others a placebo, parents and researchers observed greater increases in social abilities in those who took vasopressin. Along with showing less anxiety, the children showed improved performance on lab tests designed to measure social capabilities.

From the Science Translational Medicine journal, researchers found improvement was greatest among kids who had the highest levels of vasopressin before the study began. The treatment also appeared to diminish restricted and repetitive behaviors.

A separate study looked at 223 adult men with moderate to severe autism. A drug called balovaptan, which affects the brain’s response to vasopressin, was given to the men at four varying doses of balovaptan or a placebo for 12 weeks. While the adult trial showed no meaningful gains when the men were assessed using the Social Responsive Scale, two groups that received higher doses of the drug showed gains on a second scale examining socialization, adaptive behavior and daily living skills compared to those who received the placebo.

“Both drugs were well tolerated and had an acceptable safety profile, suggesting that modulating the vasopressin pathway may be a useful therapeutic strategy for ASD,” researchers behind both studies wrote in the journal. However a senior author of the study cautioned the public that larger trials are necessary to make sure the treatment is safe.

Click here to read more about the science behind the study.

 

 

ABLE Program Looking to Expand

Legislation was introduced earlier this month to increase access to the ABLE Program, (Achieving a Better Life Experience) designed to enable individuals with disabilities to save for and pay for disability-related expenses. Set up in 2014, ABLE accounts permit people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Under ABLE rules, Medicaid is maintained no matter how much is saved in the accounts, up to the $100,000 limit. What is being changed as of this month’s ABLE Age Adjustment Act, S. 651, is those with disabilities that present by age 46 could open these types of accounts. The current law limits ABLE accounts to those with disabilities that present prior to age 26.

 

This change will increase the number of account holders and is necessary in order for this program to promote sustainability. At the end of last year, 34,707 ABLE accounts were open across the country with $171.7 million in assets, according to Strategic Insight, a consulting firm tracking ABLE account trends. However, according to the National Association of State Treasurers, which represent state ABLE administrators and program managers, 390,000 accounts are needed by June, 2021 for ABLE programs to achieve sustainability. The senators behind the bill said that another 6.1 million people are estimated to be eligible for ABLE accounts if the ABLE Age Adjustment Act is approved.

 

Currently S.651, ABLE Age Adjustment Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and has been reintroduced in the House (H.R. 1814) where last week it was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. This will need to pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives before going to the President to become Law.

To have your voice heard, contact your legislators at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/s651/comment and you can refer to the Senate’s bill at  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/s651 and the House’s bill at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1814/cosponsors

 

To learn more about Oklahoma’s program, called “Oklahoma STABLE”, click here: https://okstable.org/

 

Budget Proposal Cuts Will Impact Those With Disabilities

The most recent fiscal 2020 budget proposal unveiled for the federal government proposes cuts to social programs including $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years. Among the cuts include an $845 billion reduction to Medicaid and Medicare spending over the next decade, with additional cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance program and a $26 billion decrease in Social Security spending over the next 10 years.

 

One proposal sure to affect people with disabilities is for the federal government to provide a fixed dollar amount to states each year for Medicaid services. It is believed this would jeopardize states ability to fund services to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

 

The Arc of the United States, of which TARC is an affiliated chapter, put it this way:

Trump’s budget request “would put the lives of people with disabilities at risk.” Adding, “the proposal includes deep cuts to Medicaid, the core program providing access to health care and home and community-based services for people with disabilities.”

 

Numerous other programs call for cuts including state councils on developmental disabilities, independent living programs and respite care efforts, a $51 million cut to address autism and other developmental disabilities, and cutting all funds for Special Olympics’ educational programs.

 

You can let your US House of Representative and US Senator know how you feel by contacting their offices at: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative and https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=OK