autism

Elysa Marco, MD

Associate Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Pediatrics; Director of SNAP

Dr. Elysa Marco is a cognitive and behavioral child neurologist who combines an active clinical practice with neuroscience research.

Her laboratory focuses on understanding the basic mechanisms of sensory perception and processing in typical children as well as children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her research combines a detailed clinical assessment with innovative imaging techniques that provide ultrafast snapshots of neural activity, with the overarching goal of finding therapeutic interventions to help children enhance learning, socialization, and daily well being.

Dr. Marco treats children with all forms of brain-based disorders. However, her specialty clinics focus on children with cognitive and behavioral differences. She works with children on the autism spectrum, as well as those with sensory processing disorder, prematurity, stroke, and brain malformations.

Dr. Marco joined the UCSF faculty in 2005 after completing her medical school, residency, and fellowship training there. She is an active clinician caring for children at the UCSF Sensory Neurodevelopment & Autism Program Clinic at the San Francisco and Marin Campuses.

UCSF Neurogenetic Studies of Autism in Mouse Models

The purpose of these studies is to identify genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms that control how the forebrain develops in normal and mutant mice. We are particularly interested in studying genes that contribute to autism susceptibility.

Summary

  • Study director: John Rubenstein MD, PhD
  • Sponsor: NIMH, NINDS, and Simons Foundation
  • Official study title: Genetic regulation of forebrain development in mice
  • Purpose: The purpose of these studies is to identify genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms that control how the forebrain develops in normal and mutant mice. We are particularly interested in studying genes that contribute to autism susceptibility.

Autism Trial with Digestive Enzyme CM-AT

This is a Phase 3 clinical trial of CM-AT, pancreatic enzyme, in patients aged 9–12 years with autistic disorder. It is hoped that CM-AT will help improve autistic symptoms through a positive impact on gastrointestinal function.

Summary

  • Study director: Robert Hendren, DO
  • Sponsor: Curemark, LLC
  • Recruiting?: Yes
  • Official study title: An Open-Label Extension Study of LUMINENZ-AT™ (CM-AT) in Children with Autism
  • ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00881452
  • Conditions studied: Autistic disorder
  • Intervention: CM-AT (pancreatic enzyme) is a pancreatic enzyme and is sprinkled onto food three times daily.

Sex Specific Dissection of Autism Genetics

The purpose of this study is to find genes related to autism spectrum disorders that might differ in boys and girls.

Summary

  • Study director: Lauren A. Weiss, PhD
  • Sponsor: NIH, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
  • Recruiting?: Yes
  • Official study title: Sex specific dissection of autism genetics
  • Conditions studied: Autism spectrum disorders

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Joining a research trial or study can be a wonderful way for contributing to our knowledge about disorders and their treatment. If you are interested, someone from the clinical trial staff will explain the details of the study, risks and benefits, and your rights as a participant, including your right to withdraw from the study at any point. Once all your questions have been answered, they will ask you to sign an informed consent form to be contacted for research and/or participate in a specific study.

Joining a research trial or study can be a wonderful way for contributing to our knowledge about disorders and their treatment. If you are interested, someone from the clinical trial staff will explain the details of the study, risks and benefits, and your rights as a participant, including your right to withdraw from the study at any point. Once all your questions have been answered, they will ask you to sign an informed consent form to be contacted for research and/or participate in a specific study.

Finding Community

Support groups can be helpful for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Support groups can be helpful for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Many families find these groups most helpful in the first years after diagnosis, when early intervention for the child is essential, and disruption to normal family life is highest. Some greatly benefit from mentoring by a parent of an older child who has already gained some experience. Some parents prefer the relative anonymity of attending large groups and lectures.

Treatment

The best treatment for autism is early, intense, structured and interactive instruction provided by well-trained teachers. But children spend most of their waking hours at home. In order to be effective, any treatment regimen must rely on “special parenting” by informed parents.

The best treatment for autism is early, intense, structured and interactive instruction provided by well-trained teachers. But children spend most of their waking hours at home. In order to be effective, any treatment regimen must rely on “special parenting” by informed parents.

Navigating School Services

When a child with autism goes to school, there are essentially two options: He may be placed in special education classes, or he may be “mainstreamed” with the rest of the children.

When a child with autism goes to school, there are essentially two options: He may be placed in special education classes, or he may be “mainstreamed” with the rest of the children.

Mainstreaming is best understood not as an end in itself but as a means to better learning. It works most effectively when the pupil can be expected to make meaningful educational gains when exposed to a curriculum that is developmentally within his grasp. When this is not done, school aides are often left to run a separate day-to-day program to help the child accommodate to the curriculum.

Tips for Parents

Receiving a diagnosis of autism is a major life event. Coping with the diagnosis and learning to manage the child’s treatment become lifelong tasks.

Receiving a diagnosis of autism is a major life event. Coping with the diagnosis and learning to manage the child’s treatment become lifelong tasks.

Parents need help becoming effective consumers of autism services. They should keep realistic expectations for their child’s behavioral and cognitive growth, as well as outcomes at school and beyond. They must understand enough about how their child learns to provide “special parenting” when the child is not in organized treatment.

SNAP Autism NeuroGenetic Clinic (ANGC)

SNAP NeuroGenetic Clinic is a coordinated effort between the division of Child Neurology and Pediatric Genetics. Dr. Marco and Dr. Litwin, cognitive and behavioral child neurologists, lead the neurologic assessment, and Dr. Anne Slavotinek, an expert in pediatric genetics, guides an in-depth investigation of metabolic and genetic causes of neurodevelopmental delay and autism. This clinic focuses on finding the underlying cause, or etiology, of your child’s neurodevelopmental challenges. We work hand in hand with our other clinics to provide wrap around care for full diagnostic assessment and treatment planning.

SNAP NeuroGenetic Clinic is a coordinated effort between the division of Child Neurology and Pediatric Genetics. Dr. Marco and Dr. Litwin, cognitive and behavioral child neurologists, lead the neurologic assessment, and Dr. Anne Slavotinek, an expert in pediatric genetics, guides an in-depth investigation of metabolic and genetic causes of neurodevelopmental delay and autism. This clinic focuses on finding the underlying cause, or etiology, of your child’s neurodevelopmental challenges.

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