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Autism and The Brain

The definition of Autism has grown over the years to cover a broad spectrum of issues. Someone diagnosed in this spectrum can range high to low function, from minimal to significant symptomology. There are a few things that remain in common though. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lists three main symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • Difficulty with communication and interaction with others.

  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.

  • Symptoms that affect their ability to function in school, work, and other areas of life.

Most who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder are diagnosed and treated behaviorally. Both diagnosis and treatment have grown and improved through years of study. Still, though, much of what we know about this brain based disorder is due to what we see on the outside, not what is seen in the brain.

More and more scientists and specialists are beginning to look underneath the hood to discover more about Autism. Here’s a few things they are finding:

  • Specialists were able to distinguish Autism Spectrum Disorder from other neuropsychiatric disorders with 93% to 97.5% accuracy with the use of EEG examination. The study was repeated successfully. (Swatzyna, 2019)

  • Even without an observable seizure, 60-80% of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) possess brain waves that are similar to those with epilepsy/seizures. (Christina, S. Autisme and Epileptiform)

  • Dr. Anti Shankardass has shown through her research that up to 50% of children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities suffer from micro-brian seizures. (Shankardass, 2009)

  • There appear to be differences in some brain structures of those diagnosed with autism versus the general population. Some of these differences include the size and structure of the hippocampus, amygdala and cerebellum as shown in MRI research. (Askham, 2020)

These are only a few of the studies and new research showing us that there is much more to autism than the behaviors we see on the surface. Brain structure, function, hormones and coherence all seem to play a role in how autism presents and can give us more information on how to best care for those who experience these symptoms.

To explore more research about Autism and the Brain click on the links below or start your own search.

*full list of sources available upon request

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