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As of 2015, the percentage of the unemployed who are long-term unemployed remains at levels unseen in the US in over six decades. A well-established literature associates long-term unemployment with a variety of social ills, including poverty, increased risk of physical and mental health problems, and deteriorating emotional well-being. This chapter describes the nature and scope of long-term unemployment in the United States and its impact on individuals and families. It also focuses on the issue of mental health and explores the causal relationship between long-term unemployment and mental health as well as the most promising solutions to the mental health challenges raised by long-term unemployment. The final section of the chapter focuses on the challenges that arise when long-term unemployed workers internalize the stigma of unemployment and blame themselves for their labor market difficulties, and it considers possible causes of and solutions to such self-blame.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with genetic risk on the oxytocin system, suggesting oxytocin involvement in ASD; yet oxytocin functioning in young children with ASD is unknown.
To assess baseline oxytocin in pre-schoolers with ASD and test whether oxytocin production may be enhanced by parent–child contact.
Forty pre-schoolers with high-functioning ASD were matched with 40 typically developing controls. Two home visits included an identical 45-minute social battery once with the mother and once with the father. Four saliva oxytocin samples were collected from each parent and the child during each visit.
Children with ASD had lower baseline oxytocin. Following 20 min of parent–child interactions, oxytocin normalised and remained high during social contact. Fifteen minutes after contact, oxytocin fell to baseline. Oxytocin correlated with parent–child social synchrony in both groups.
Oxytocin dysfunction in ASD is observed in early childhood. The quick improvement in oxytocin production following parent–child contact underscores the malleability of the system and charts future directions for attachment-based behavioural and pharmacological interventions.