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Researcher Describes Autism Inpatient Study to U.S. Panel

Date Published: 
August 2, 2018

Dr. Matthew Siegel, associate professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Tufts University, addressed the U.S. Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee recently about research into aggression and self-injury in people who are "severely affected" by autism. He is a lead investigator of the Autism Inpatient Collection (AIC), a research project that focuses on children and young adults with autism who are admitted to a participating hospital for psychiatric treatment.

His presentation, which is published on the IACC website, states, "Aggression and self-injury are under-researched, and their underlying biology not well understood, particularly in those who are minimally verbal or have intellectual disability."

For people with minimal speech, aggression may seem to come "out of the blue" because they cannot report their distress efficiently, he said. Preliminary data from the AIC suggests that measuring certain physical symptoms and other data can be used to predict when someone with ASD may have an aggressive outburst, according to the presentation.

The AIC has enrolled more than 1,000 people with ASD and their biological parents, for genetic testing and other studies. Dr. Siegel gave his presentation in April to IACC, which advises federal agencies about autism.