Motor issues at the core of Autism Spectrum Disorders reveal effects of psychotropic meds

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"Most research in autism is interested in discovering the causes. Given the subjectivity of the diagnosis methods that Psychologists and Psychiatrists employ, discovering the causes of autism is an intractable question at the moment.

Our lab is more interested in finding ways to help improve the quality of life of the affected person and their family unit. For example, this would include creating new personalized biometrics to track longitudinal change in the developing nervous systems of a given child or adolescent affected by this large set of comorbid conditions. Our approach differs from those “one size fits all” methods currently employed in scientific research and clinical circles dealing with the autistic conditions.

As part of the research program from the Sensory Motor Integration Lab at Rutgers University, we try to help parents and clinicians track the short- and long-term side effects that a psychotropic drug (or combinations of drugs) may have on the developing nervous systems of a young infant, a child or an adolescent. In the words of a parent, “medication today is like a game of darts”. We want to go beyond that game-like scenario and use rigorous statistical approaches to examine the consequences of bombarding a nascent nervous system with all sorts of drugs that in the first place were designed for adults with a steadier nervous system.

One pressing question from this study is, now that we know about the excess of involuntary micro-motions in ASD and the pervasive effects of psychotropic meds in developing nervous systems, particularly those with an ASD diagnosis, what are we scientists, clinicians and parents going to do about it?"

-Dr. Elizabeth Torres

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