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Autism Speaks ‘Got Questions?’ Advice Column: Most Popular Posts 2014

The year's most-popular answers, advice and perspective on the issues that matter to you

First, a heartfelt thanks to our readership for your outpouring of questions this year. While we received too many to answer each one in our “Got Questions?” column, all your emails were important to us, and we tried to respond personally to each.

In addition to reaching out through our advice columns, please remember that Autism Speaks Autism Response Team is here to provide personal help locating resources in your community.

Call 888-288-4762 – en Español 888-772-9050 – or email

In this year’s “Got Questions?” column, our autism specialists tackled questions that we saw shared by many individuals and families in the autism community. These experts included members of our science staff, funded researchers and a broad range of specialists in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.

To wrap up 2014, here’s a recap of the year’s five most-popular posts, based on readership and shares:

#5 Store Clerk Sees Autism-Related Meltdown: How Could I Have Helped?
I work in a department store during the holidays. Last year, I witnessed a dramatic meltdown of a child whose mom explained he had autism. What could I have done to help without making matters worse?

Advice from education specialist Lucia Murillo, Autism Speaks assistant director of education research (left), and social worker Lindsay Naeder, assistant director of the Autism Speaks Autism Response Team.

#4 Social Communication Disorder: Parents Seek Guidance
Can you explain the new DSM-5 category of Social Communication Disorder? Who would receive this diagnosis, and what therapies would help?”

Answers from child psychologist Lauren Elder, Autism Speaks assistant director for dissemination science.

#3 What Is It about Autism and Trains?!
What is it about autism and trains? We know it’s not just our son because we keep meeting other children – and adults – on the spectrum who are so fascinated by them.

Insights from developmental pediatrician Amanda Bennett. Dr. Bennett directs the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

#2 Broccoli Sprout Extract and Autism: What You Need to Know
In October, a new scientific report described how sulforaphane, a chemical derived from broccoli sprouts, helped ease autism symptoms in nearly half of the 29 individuals enrolled in a small 18-week trial.

Developmental pediatrician Paul Wang, Autism Speaks senior vice president for medical research, addressed reader questions in response to our news story.

#1 What is PANDAS? How Is It Different from Autism?
PANDAS turned out to be the cause of obsessive-compulsive symptoms in our son, who also has autism. But the lack of information and awareness left his symptoms untreated for nearly 3 years. Would love you to help more people understand.

Answers from developmental pediatrician Sue Swedo (left) and child psychiatrist Rebecca Hommer. In 1998, Dr. Swedo coined the term PANDAS to describe 50 cases of a rare syndrome that involved obsessive compulsive behaviors following strep infection.

Got more questions? Send them to

Also see “Best of ‘Food for Thought’ – 2014”
Top Ten Autism Research Stories of 2014





The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.