Is the autistic brain too wired or not wired enough?
June 27, 2013
Trying to find out how the autistic brain is “different” can be like studying a spinning coin: one side says its circuits are over-connected; the other, under-connected. How can the autistic brain do extraordinary things, like retain a photographic memory of city streets, yet fail to recall a face? Store a large vocabulary, yet fall flat in social conversation? New evidence from a Stanford University study published online Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry freezes the coin on the hyper-connection side, at least for a time.


Unique Brain Pattern Could Predict Autism in Youngest Children
June 27, 2013
Genetic changes are almost certainly behind many cases of autism, and the latest research suggests that some of those alterations may be contributing to more densely connected networks of brain nerves. A highly interconnected brain could mean that signals zooming from sensory nerves to other networks become too overwhelming to parse apart and process, which researchers believe is a hallmark of the autistic brain. And in a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, Stanford University researchers report that this pattern of hyperconnectivity in some brain areas could provide a fingerprint for autism that helps doctors to recognize the condition at its earliest stages.


Carly Fleischmann, Teen With Autism, Shares Her World In Award-Winning ‘Carly’s Cafe’ (VIDEO)
June 26, 2013

Carly Fleischmann has autism and cannot speak. She communicates with her family and the wider world using computers and tablets — a skill she began to develop when she was 10, and for years, has been an advocate for autism awareness. One of the 18-year-old’s most creative communications, a 2012 short film called “Carly’s Cafe,” presents a typical coffee shop outing as the teenager herself would experience it: She can’t express what she wants out loud — be it a cup of coffee or the chance to spend her evening doing something without her sister — and as the video progresses, spectators get a sense (briefly) of a world where basic interactions are beyond their control.


Diesel particulates, other air pollutants linked to autism in children
June 23, 2013
Our economy runs on diesel. It’s burned in the road-going rigs that bring us everything from potatoes to potpourris. If it’s on a store shelf, it likely arrived by oil-burning truck. Increasingly, diesel engines are also finding a home in our passenger cars, migrating from Europe, where they’ve long been popular. And why not? With a higher energy density than gasoline, diesel fuel gives us more miles per gram of emitted CO2 and the engines that use it tend to give us motivational torque in a lower RPM range, where it’s more useful. It appears, however, that there may be some substantial trade-offs when it comes to the effect of their exhaust particulate on our most precious resource: our children.


Autism, Air Pollution Link Confirmed By First National Study
June 18, 2013
Living in an area with high levels of air pollution may increase a woman’s chances of having a child with autism, according to the first national study to date that investigates the possible link. “Women who were exposed to the highest levels of diesel or mercury in the air were twice as likely to have a child with autism than women who lived in the cleanest parts of the sample,” study author Andrea Roberts, a research associate with the Harvard School of Public Health, told The Huffington Post.


The Human Voice May Not Spark Pleasure In Children With Autism
June 17, 2013
The human voice appears to trigger pleasure circuits in the brains of typical kids, but not children with autism, a Stanford University team reports. The finding could explain why many children with autism seem indifferent to spoken words. The Stanford team used functional MRI to compare the brains of 20 children who had autism spectrum disorders and 19 typical kids.


Pictures Paint a Thousand Words
A LITTLE autistic girl who cannot talk has stunned the art world — by painting pictures that speak volumes.
June 13, 2013
Three-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw’s parents put her work on the internet and were amazed to be swamped with inquiries from would-be buyers. Now her work is being snapped up by art fans from around the globe — with one painting alone fetching £830. Iris Grace began painting as part of a range of therapies, including music and being with horses, all aimed at helping with her autism. The condition had made it difficult for her to play with other children or even make eye contact with her family in Market Harborough, Leics. Her dad Peter-Jon, 43, said: “When she started doing art therapy lots of other people said her paintings were great. It went berserk from there.”

Study: A Third of Autistic Children Also Have ADHD
June 5, 2013
About a third of children who have autism also have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a study released Wednesday. According to researchers at the Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute, which studies autism, the two disorders may be somehow linked. “We are increasingly seeing that these two disorders co-occur and a greater understanding of how they relate to each other could ultimately improve outcomes and quality of life for this subset of children,” Rebecca Landa, author of the study, said in a statement. The study was published in Autism: The International Journal and Practice.


Hyperactive brain cells could be early hint of autism
June 3, 2013
Hyperactive brain cells firing together could be an early indicator of autism and developmental disabilities, a team of UCLA researchers has found. Networks of neurons were found to be firing in a highly synchronized and seemingly unrelenting fashion, even through sleep, in the brains of juvenile mice that have a genetic abnormality similar to one that causes mental retardation and autism symptoms in humans, according to the research published online Monday in Nature Neuroscience.


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