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Is Autism A Neurological Disorder

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The Assq Factor Scores

How Firefly Autism works to help children with the neurological disorder

The ASSQ scores of the neurological disorder group were elevated across all three factors as compared to the two other groups, i.e. in terms of social difficulties, motor/tics/OCD issues, and autistic style. The fact that the children with neurological disorders obtained the highest mean score and the largest effect size for the social difficulties factor score according to both informants, suggests that social difficulties are observed to be the most frequent symptoms in this group, and that the elevated total scores are only to a lesser extent affected by symptoms which may be more directly linked to the neurological disorders, such as motor difficulties. This result is in accordance with the study by Ekstrom and collaborators , in which impairment in social interaction and communication was the main problem in children with myotonic dystrophy and ASD.

Associated Clinical Factors And Prognosis

In the last several years, studies have demonstrated that sleep impairment is associated with more clinical comorbidities. In 2009, Goldman and Malow published a comprehensive study using parental report , actigraphy and polysomnography to characterize 42 children, ages 410, with ASD and 16 age-matched, typical controls. Children were classified as either good sleepers or poor sleepers based on parent report, with phenotypes were supported by PSG. Poor sleepers with ASD showed more hyperactivity and greater restricted/repetitive behaviors than good sleepers. Other recent studies have found sleep impairment to correlate to hypersensitivity, epilepsy, ADHD, medication use and mood disorders. Several recent studies have also demonstrated an association between epilepsy and sleep impairment, suggesting a common dysfunction in neuronal circuitry. However, the directionality of the relationship remains to be elucidated, which would best be accomplished through prospective, longitudinal studies.

What Research Is Being Done

The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. The NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world. NINDS and several other NIH Institutes and Centers support research on autism spectrum disorder.

Nearly 20 years ago the NIH formed the Autism Coordinating Committee to enhance the quality, pace, and coordination of efforts at the NIH to find a cure for autism. The NIH/ACC has been instrumental in promoting research to understand and advance ASD. The NIH/ACC also participates in the broader Federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee , composed of representatives from various U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies, the Department of Education, and other governmental organizations, as well as public members, including individuals with ASD and representatives of patient advocacy organizations. One responsibility of the IACC is to develop a strategic plan for ASD research, which guides research programs supported by NIH and other participating organizations.

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Development In Autistic Children

Children with ASDs develop differently from other children. Children without ASDs develop at about the same rate in areas of development such as motor, language, cognitive, and social skills. Children with ASDs develop at different rates in different areas of growth. They might have large delays in language, social, and cognitive skills, while their motor skills might be about the same as other children their age. They might be very good at things like putting puzzles together or solving computer problems, but not very good at some things most people think are easy, like talking or making friends.

Children with ASDs might also learn a hard skill before they learn an easy one. For example, a child might be able to read long words, but not be able to tell you what sound a b makes. A child might also learn a skill and then lose it. For example, a child may be able to say many words, but later stop talking altogether.

Autistic People Have Increased Incidence Of Neurological Problems


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People with autism have more brain-related health problems, such as headaches and epilepsy, than typical people do, according to a survey of twins1. The study is the first to look at associations between autism and physical health problems among twins.

The study found no association between autism and other physical conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems and infectious diseases, however.

I find it particularly remarkable that our results are so clear in terms of confirming that but also autistic traits are associated with neurological alterations, and no other somatic issues are equally associated, says lead investigator Sven Bölte, director of the Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. The findings also support the idea that autism is a condition of the brain, Bölte says, and not of the immune system or the gut.

Understanding associations such as these can help clinicians look out for autistic peoples health problems. That is particularly important when treating people who may have difficulties communicating, says Thomas Challman, medical director of the Geisinger Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

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How Is The Structure Of The Brain Different

The neuroanatomy of autism is difficult to describe, Dr. Culotta says. So it might be easier to talk about the architecture of the brain and how the autistic brain may differ.

So whats different in the structure of this three-pound organ? Lets start with a quick anatomy refresher: First of all, the brain is split into two halves or hemispheres. It is these two hemispheres that we get the idea of a left brain and a right brain. In reality, our thinking and cognitive processes bounce back and forth between the two halves. Theres a little bit of difficulty in autism communicating between the left and right hemispheres in the brain. Theres not as many strong connections between the two hemispheres, Dr. Anderson says.

In recent years, science has found that the hemispheres of ASD brains have slightly more symmetry than those of a regular brain. This small difference in asymmetry isnt enough to diagnosis ASD, according to a report in Nature Communications. And, exactly how the symmetry may play into autisms traits is still be researched.

Now, were going to get a little technical. Grey matter ripples into peaks and troughs called gyri and sulci, respectively. According to researchers from San Diego State University, these deep folds and wrinkles may develop differently in ASD. Specifically, in autistic brains there is significantly more folding in the left parietal and temporal lobes as well as in the right frontal and temporal regions.

Are There Treatments Options Available

There is no cure for autism, but many treatments are available that may ameliorate some of the more challenging aspects of the disorder. Education can help parents learn to deal with their childs behavioral and emotional concerns, and will allow them to train their child to live a more independent lifestyle. However, it is important to remember that all autistic children are different, and no single treatment will work for all children.

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How Common Is Autism Spectrum Disorder

Based on most recent CDC report, ASD is estimated to affect about 1 in 54 children, with boys being more likely to have ASD than girls. There were more than 5 million adults in the US, or 2.21% of the population, with ASD as of 2017. Government statistics suggest that the prevalence of ASD has risen 10% to 17% in recent years.

The Cause Of Autism Is Unknown

New Genetic Tools to Treat Autism and Pediatric Neurological Disorders with Joseph Gleeson

It was once thought that poor parenting caused autism. This isdefinitely not true. Although the cause of autism is unclear, it is knownthat genetics do play a role. The disorder is seen often in identicaltwins: different studies have shown that if one identical twin has autismthen there is a 63-98% chance that the other twin will have it. Fornon-identical twins , the chanceis between 0-10% that both twins will develop autism. The chance thatsiblings will be affected by autism is about 3%.

Chance that both people will develop autism:



Autism appears to be associated with other chromosomal abnormalities,such as Fragile X syndrome or brain abnormalities such as congenitalrubella syndrome. A large number of people with these disorders are alsodiagnosed with autism. Furthermore, complicated births, such as difficultpregnancies, labor, or delivery may to contribute to the disorder.

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Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder

The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.

Autism And Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder tend to alternate between a frenzied state known as mania and episodes of depression.

It is important to understand the symptoms of true bipolar disorder from those of autism by looking at when the symptoms appeared and how long they lasted. For example, a child with autism may be consistently high-energy and socially intrusive through childhood. As such, her tendency to talk to strangers and make inappropriate comments are likely part of her autism, and not a symptom of a manic mood swing.

Treatments: Some of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder can be problematic for some with autism who has difficulty recognizing and expressing feelings. A psychiatrist can provide additional medications that may be safer.

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What Characterizes Neurodivergent People

Theres no one way to characterize neurodivergent people. Thats because many people identify as neurodivergent, including autistic people and people with ADHD. Even within the autistic community, the signs of autism can vary.

For example, the signs of autism may be different for adults versus children. The lists the following as typical signs of someone who is autistic:

  • a lack of babbling or pointing by the age of 12 months
  • poor eye contact
  • no single words by the age of 16 months
  • no two-word phrases by the age of 2 years
  • no smiling or social responsiveness
  • not responding to their name
  • fixation on lining up toys or objects, or watching toys move or spin
  • repeating actions or sound over and over

In older children or adults, signs can include:

  • low social interaction
  • inability to initiate or hold a conversation
  • lack of social play
  • intense, focused interest, usually on an object or subject
  • fixation on certain routines or rituals
  • difficulty maintaining eye contact

Effects Of Sleep Disturbances In Children With Asd

Human Biology Online Lab / My Neurological Disorder by ...

The relationship between sleep and behavior dysfunction in ASD is likely bi-directional. Sleep dysfunction has been associated with higher rates of autism severity scores, stereotypies, repetitive behaviors and poorer social interaction skills . In addition, recent research has shown that sleep is important in modulating affective brain processing and that sleep deprivation can contribute to emotional reactivity and difficulties in the interpretation of nonverbal social cues . Thus, sleep disturbance may contribute not only to the development of associated affective disorders but the expression of core communication deficits as well. A recent study also found that children with autistic regression had less efficient sleep, less total sleep time, prolonged sleep latency, prolonged REM latency and more wake time after sleep onset on PSG than children without regression . These findings, taken together, suggest that disturbed sleep and autism severity may be associated through common pathways such as disturbances in neurochemicals and/ or neural circuitry.

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Unusual Sex Differences In Neurological Diseases In The Asd Group

Previous definitions of autism were very narrow. The newest DSM consolidated autistic disorder, Aspergerâs disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder together into ASD. The prevalence of ASD has an obvious sex bias and is widely accepted to have a 4-fold incidence in men compared to that in women . Interestingly, the sex ratio of probands with ASD in our cohort was 1:1. There are several possibilities underlying this observation. Firstly, ID/GDD was a common comorbidity in our ASD cohort , and previous studies have indicated that intelligence level significantly influences the sex ratio of autism, with a male-to-female ratio of 1.7:1 in patients with moderate-to-severe ID . Equally important, all subjects enrolled in the study had genetic mutations, which may have also contributed to the unusual sex ratio as women with autism have a higher rate of genetic variants than men with autism . Additionally, boys with externalizing behaviors including aggressive behavior, hyperactivity, and repetitive or restricted movements or interest are more frequently associated with ASD than girls with internalizing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and other emotional manifestations . Therefore, previously reported sex ratios might be offset by physician bias.

No Link Between Autism And Immunisation

Any link between immunisation and autism has been completely discredited.

During the 1990s, concern in the community about a possible link between the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine and autism was generated by the findings of research conducted in London in 1998. The Wakefield study has since been discredited and withdrawn by the journal that originally published it. Dr Wakefields registration as a doctor in the United Kingdom has also been cancelled.

Extensive research conducted globally for a decade did not establish any link between vaccines and autism.

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Autism: A Neurological Disorder Of Early Brain Development Chapter : Where We Are: Overview And Definitions


Chapter 1 Where We Are: Overview and Definitions by Isabelle Rapin and Roberto F Tuchman from Autism: a Neurological Disorder of Early Brain Development

About the Complete Book

Autism lacks a unique etiology or specific pathology, so the behaviorally defined social deficits, language impairments and repetitive behaviors that define autism are explored from a developmental neurology perspective. The evidence suggesting that autism is a disorder of neuronal development is reviewed by experts on the genetics, neuroanatomy and neuroradiology, neurochemistry, immunology, and neurophysiology of autism. Chapters provide comprehensive reviews of the common neurological problems associated with autism such as epilepsy, sleep disturbances and motor and sensory deficits.

Neuropsychological assessment, medical and psychopharmacologic management, educational and behavioral interventions, and outcome are discussed within the clinical content of the practising neurologist. The research agenda needed to understand the neurology of autism is emphasized throughout the book and in the conclusion.

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Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults

Neurological Comorbidities in Autism Spectrum Disorder

It is not unusual for autistic people to have reached adulthood without a diagnosis.

Sometimes people will discover some information about autism that makes them think That sounds like me. They may then choose to talk to a health professional for a diagnosis, or they may not.

You may choose to seek a diagnosis for suspected autism if:

  • you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and/or intellectual disability during childhood or adolescence, but think that you may have autism
  • you have struggled with feeling socially isolated and different
  • your child or another family member has been diagnosed with autism and some of the characteristics of autism sound familiar to you.

If you wish to seek an assessment for autism, you can:

  • talk to your GP who may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism
  • talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism .

A psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism will ask you about your childhood, and experiences at school and as an adult. They may also do some psychological or psychiatric testing. A speech therapist may also be consulted to assess your social communication skills. All of this information will be used to help make a diagnosis.

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How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated

ASD is most often a life-long condition. Both children and adults with autism benefit from behavioral interventions or therapies that can teach new skills to address the core deficits of autism and to reduce the core symptoms. Every child and adult with autism is unique. For this reason, the treatment plan is individualized to meet specific needs. It is best to begin interventions as soon as possible, so the benefits of therapy can continue on throughout the course of life.

Many people with ASD often have additional medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal and feeding issues, seizures and sleep disturbances. Treatment can involve behavioral therapy, medications or both.

Early intensive behavioral treatments involves the entire family and possibly a team of professionals. As your child ages and develops, treatment may be modified to cater to their specific needs.

During adolescence, children benefit from transition services that promote skills of independence essential in adulthood. The focus at that point is on employment opportunities and job skill training.

What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Signs of ASD range from mild to severely disabling, and every person is different. The following signs are considered to be red flags that indicate your young child may be at risk for autism. If your child shows any of the following signs, please get in touch with your childs healthcare provider to discuss a referral for an autism evaluation.

The signs include the following:

  • Your child doesnt respond to their name being called at all or responds inconsistently.
  • Your child doesnt smile widely or make warm, joyful expressions by the age of 6 months.
  • Your child doesnt engage in smiling, making sounds and making faces with you or other people by the age of 9 months.
  • Your child doesnt babble by 12 months.
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as showing, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
  • No words by 16 months.
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases by 24 months.
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.

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