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Friday, 17 January 2014

Increasing Good Behaviors and Reducing Bad Behaviors in Autism

This blog is all about clever chemicals that can make life better for people with autism, but for several years I have also been learning all about behavioral therapy to achieve the same goal.  So I thought I should look for any lessons that I might apply from my earlier endeavours.  




Two of the best books in my ABA collection, based on feedback from all of our Assistants/Therapists/Friends are the oldest, and indeed the lightest.  They are more than 30 years old, as you might imagine from the front cover, which is a big turn off for many parents.

They are great books, that tell you what you actually want to know: how to get rid of horrible behaviours and how to encourage nice ones.
Dr Foxx is still going strong and won the 2013 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research from the American Psychological Association. Foxx is a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State Harrisburg and an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

The thing I always found odd was why Dr. Foxx wrote two separate books, surely it is all the same subject matter.  He had his reasons.
Here is my parallel with my quest to develop a smart combination of safe drugs to help in autism. 

So far, most of what I have been doing is focused on decreasing the bad behaviors, so the blue part of the pill; the remaining work is find to ways to promote the good behaviors, the yellow part of the pill.

This might actually be more relevant that you realize.  While it is clear that bad behaviors in autism vary widely in both type and extent, desirable good behaviors should have much more in common.  We know that many individual drugs on the "blue side" are effective only in a minority of people, but perhaps there will be much more commonality on the "yellow side".  I expect this to be the case.
So my Polypill is taking colour, as well as shape.

Another good piece of news is that I found a precedent for orphan drug designation in classic autism.  It appears that in 1998 the FDA awarded orphan drug status to Naltrexone to treat childhood autism with SIB.  In the US, orphan drug status is only possible for rare diseases affecting less than 200,000 people.  There are other cases of orphan drugs in autism, but they are for rare genetic variants. Currently the FDA website for orphan drugs does not list Autism for Naltrexone.
Also, an interesting Australian drug NNZ-2566,  mentioned in a previous post, has recently been given orphan drug status in the US, this time based on Fragile X designation.  The drug is an analogue of IGF-1 and looks interesting to me.

If you want to see what orphan drug designation in the EU means, here is what Novartis received for its new Fragile X treatment, Mavoglurant.
Orphan drug status reduces the cost of approving a drug.  But how rare is classic autism, these days?

 

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