carly-autism-voice

Take 2 Minutes and Experience Autism Through Carly’s Eyes—It’s Breathtaking

This is breathtaking. See inside the mind of someone with autism, and you’ll never look at people with this condition the same way again.

When Carly was just two-years-old, she was diagnosed with severe autism. Her condition stopped her from speaking and doctors said she would likely never intellectually develop beyond the mind of a child.

However, she made progress with her therapists, and after years of effort in behavioral and communication therapy, she had a huge breakthrough. One day during therapy she reached out for a laptop and typed, “HELP TEETH HURT,” and it blew everyone away.

This event started Carly’s new journey of hope and helped crush stereotypes about people who suffer from severe autism.

Experience autism through Carly’s eyes in this amazing first-person video.

Source:http://faithit.com

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This Tea Heals Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Multiple Sclerosis, And More…

Thyme has been popular for centuries, and it has been commonly used to treat various ailments, from flu to epileptic seizures.

During the middle ages, people mixed thyme with lavender in equal amounts and sprinkled on the floors of churches to get rid of any unwanted odors. Moreover, it has also been used to heal wounds and prevent infections, and it was applied crushed on the affected areas.

Its volatile essential oils are high in antiviral, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal properties.

Its regular use will lower the viral load in the body, so it is excellent in the case of lupus, tinnitus, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, vertigo, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and rheumatoid arthritis. All you need to do to treat these conditions is to drink thyme tea every morning.

Thyme is high in vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, and calcium, all of which are extremely beneficial for proper red blood cell formation, blood pressure regulation, and distribution of antioxidants in the body. It is also abundant in folic acid, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and C.

It also contains various  bioflavonoids and volatile oils, including thymol, an essential oil with potent antioxidant properties.

Furthermore, it has powerful cancer preventive properties, as it is rich in terpenoids such as rosmarinic and ursolic acids. Studies have shown that the regular intake of thyme raises the amount of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) in the kidney, brain, and heart cell membranes.

The essential oils in thyme have strong expectorant and bronchial antispasmodic properties and are thus excellent in the treatment and prevention of:

  • gingivitis
  • laryngitis
  • asthma
  • throat infections
  • acute and chronic bronchitis
  • sore throats
  • coughs
  • inflammation of the mouth

Source:healthyfoodhouse.com

Always-Writing

4 Easy Things A Parent Can Do To Help A Child With Dyslexia

As a teacher, tutor, and parent of a child who struggles with Dyslexia, I have found there are some simple things that parents can do to help their child. It doesn’t really matter if your child has been diagnosed with Dyslexia or if they simply struggle with those tendencies, these are things that you can do right now to help your child.

I must admit, I found these things out on my own. When my own daughter began to show struggles with writing, I had no one to tell me that these are the things I should do. There was really not a lot of help out there, and I had to do some research. My goal is to help other parents, and teachers, to know what to do in order to really help these kiddos out.

1. Reteach how to correctly write letters and numbers.

I discovered this while tutoring some fourth-grade students who struggled with classic Dyslexia. They tended to write their letters and numbers upside down. For example, instead of writing an “l” from top to bottom, they wrote it from bottom to top. They would draw an “o” from the bottom and counterclockwise. Normally, if you learned how to print, you learned to write an “o” from the 12 o’clock position and clockwise.

Students with Dyslexia really need this corrected. You can easily find and print out handwriting practice sheets online. As for homework, you are going to have to sit and watch how they write each and every letter and number, but it is worth taking time to do it—I promise!

2. Have a “cheat sheet” of common letters and numbers that your child writes backwards.

This is great for the teacher to put on their desk as well. My daughter’s teacher had a little card on her desk with the letters she was writing backwards. This helped her to slow down and copy that letter until her brain learned to write it correctly. This helped right away at home as well. We also had a number chart for her to use when doing her homework. Numbers are often written backwards as well, so don’t overlook them.

3. Teach your child how to write in D’Nealian or cursive as early as possible.

I cannot stress this enough: teach your child how to write in D’Nealian as soon as possible. Students who write in cursive, or a form of simplified cursive, do not show Dyslexic tendencies as much. Why? Because a cursive “b” and “d” cannot be confused since the formation is totally different, unlike print where they are mirror images of one another. The same goes for “p” and “q.” In print, they are mirror images, but not so in cursive. Again, you can print practice sheets you find online for free.

4. Do Brain Gym exercises with your child.

Yes, exercise helps—believe it or not! People that have Dyslexia have trouble crossing the middle of their body, and it has to do with the right and left sides of their brain. Ways to combat this include practice skipping, touching opposite elbows to the opposite knee, or touching opposite foot and hands. I know this sounds strange, but believe me it works! My previous elementary campus found this so helpful that all third-grade teachers would stop class and do Brain Gym in the classroom before reading and writing activities. It helped the students with Dyslexia, and the other students as well.

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are simple things you can do today to help your child with their struggles with Dyslexia or similar symptoms. Early intervention is the key! And, of course, if you feel that your child may have Dyslexia, do get them tested through your school or doctor.

Source:lifehack.org

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The Top 9 Signs That Your Infant May Have Autism. #6 Really Surprised Me!

1. DELAYED MOTOR DEVELOPMENT

Has your daughter experienced significant delays in motor development milestones, such as rolling over, pushing herself up, and crawling?

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THOSE WERE THE TOP INDICATORS OF AUTISM IN INFANTS. WANT TO LEARN MORE?

It’s known that children who have been diagnosed with autism do not make eye contact, but is it possible to find these signs at an earlier age? Researchers at Emory University have discovered an eye tracking software that shows where your baby is looking and has proven to find changes already happening that may detect autism.

Studying babies as early as two months old, these researchers have found that by six months children with autism spend less time looking at eyes. This technology can now help identify autism before a parent or doctor sees signs.

Note: Be aware this isn’t something you can see with the naked eye and should constantly be worrying about. Your babies physician will use this screening over the years to make sure they detect anything out of the ordinary for a better long term outcome!

Source:autismsite

 

Did you know this? Where your baby is looking COULD be a sign of autism.

It’s known that children who have been diagnosed with autism do not make eye contact, but is it possible to find these signs at an earlier age? Researchers at Emory University have discovered an eye tracking software that shows where your baby is looking and has proven to find changes already happening that may detect autism.

Studying babies as early as two months old, these researchers have found that by six months children with autism spend less time looking at eyes. This technology can now help identify autism before a parent or doctor sees signs.

Note: Be aware this isn’t something you can see with the naked eye and should constantly be worrying about. Your babies physician will use this screening over the years to make sure they detect anything out of the ordinary for a better long term outcome!

Source:autismsite

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When a Woman Whispered How She ‘Can’t Stand Parents Who Can’t Control Their Kids’

I remember the day I finally got the answers I needed about my 4-year-old son’s behavior. April 1, 2016. That day I took him to have his evaluation done, thinking he would be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), like his 9-year-old sister. As I gave his therapist all the information she needed, I saw a light turn on in her head. After doing a few tests of his response to touch, she turned to me and said, “He does not have ADHD. He has sensory processing disorder (SPD), and it looks like he might be on the autism spectrum.”author's son in car

My head was spinning. Surely I would have noticed if my son had these diagnoses, right? She explained to me how sensory disorders often look like symptoms of ADHD. My mind jumped back to the day I made the appointment. I was checking my 9-year-old out of school, my son and my 2-year-old in tow. My son started to cry and throw a fit while we stood in the bricked hallway of the school. The secretary came out of the office and instructed me to wait outside, since my child was being a disruption. I walked outside with my head down to wait.

After this three-hour evaluation and the diagnoses, I went home and straight to Google to research what sensory disorders are all about. Within 30 minutes, my son’s entire life made sense to me. All four years of it — the reason why he rarely slept, or why he likes to wears his Halloween spandex costume or long sleeve shirts. That day at the school made sense. The noises in the hallway bouncing off the bricks and making it sound distorted had hurt my son and caused him to have a meltdown. He changes his clothes a thousand times a day. It made sense! Finally, I knew how to help my child. I knew exactly what to watch for and what to expect.

I was relieved to have answers. I was also upset and confused because all this time I thought I was parenting “wrong.” “Maybe these people whispering about my parenting skills in public places were right,” I often thought. No, it had nothing to do with bad parenting — but everything to do with being unaware of something I couldn’t see.

On the Monday following that appointment, I had my own appointment for the OB/GYN. My husband couldn’t take off work, so I took my son and 2-year-old with me. I was confident in my newfound knowledge and had sensory items packed to try and make it easier. I sat down in a seat with another row of seats behind it connected at the back. My son had my phone watching YouTube with headphones in his ears to block out background noise. Then the phone froze. He could hear everyone around him and began to have a meltdown. I frantically rushed to get YouTube playing. When it did, his muscles relaxed. No major meltdown!

However, an older lady sitting behind me decided to “whisper” to her daughter, “Would you like to move? I can’t stand parents who can’t control their kids.”

It was loud enough for me to hear. I politely turn around and responded: ” Actually, I do have control of my kid. He has a sensory disorder and is autistic. Since the month of April is Autism awareness month, you might want to look into the statistics for both. Possibly educate yourself on what they consist of. One day you might be the person having to defend your grandchild against people’s hurtful words.”

The lady got quiet and moved with a look of embarrassment on her face. For the first time, I felt proud of myself and confident with the answers I needed for so long.

I can hold my head high and free my mind of any worry  I once had that I was a “bad” parent. I explain to people who make rude comments towards me or my child exactly the reason why my child is having a meltdown. I no longer feel embarrassed when I have to sit in the entrance of a store, swaddling my son, calming him from a meltdown because all the race car carts are gone and he doesn’t like the texture of the regular cart. As people walk in the store staring, I just let them stare. It makes no difference to me. I am parenting, and every child requires different parenting. Knowing is the most empowering tool a parent of a child with special needs can have. When all the pieces fit, life is easier.

Source:themighty.com

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What I Mean When I Tell You My Daughter Is Autistic

I want the world to become more educated about neurodiversity. Knowing people with autism diagnoses means understanding can come more easily to us all. So if I come straight out and say “my daughter’s on the spectrum,” that means “check your judgment.” It means “resist assumptions.”

It can be hard to distinguish my daughter from neurotypical kids her age. I get that. It probably comes as a surprise when I say it. But when I tell you my daughter has been given an autism diagnosis, what I’m really saying is this: when she does something you don’t expect, choose compassion over judgment.

If she doesn’t want to give you a high-five or a smile when she greets you, don’t assume she’s impolite. If she walks away from you when you’re talking to her, don’t assume she’s ignoring you on purpose.

If she gets upset when you don’t want to do things exactly her way, every single time, repetitively and consistently for hours or days on end, know that it’s something that can come with her autism.

If she shuts down and retreats in the middle of a play session with your kid, it might be because the rules of a game suddenly got changed. Or it could be that the conversation and activity is happening too fast to process.

If she can’t come to your child’s birthday party because there might be strangers there and too much noise and food that smells bad, don’t assume she doesn’t want to be there. She does. She wants so badly to come, I promise.

If she doesn’t get excited about things or doesn’t think things are funny, take it as a compliment that she’s showing you how she really feels. She’s not faking it. She’s not pretending to care or laugh. Showing that side of herself to you means she trusts you.

As her parents, we were relieved when we got the diagnosis. Finally someone could tell us that her behaviors come from a particular place. There’s a reason and a purpose for them.

Getting the diagnosis enabled us to look at her behaviors completely differently. Instead of being angry and frustrated, we worked harder to understand her triggers so we could teach her to cope.

Telling you about her diagnosis means that you can understand and identify what you see in her, too. She’s not a “brat.” She’s not “weird.” And we’re not ashamed.

She is part of the fascinating world of neurodivergence, and we will always expect you to honor her humanity.

Source:themighty.com

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Memory hub could underlie social, cognitive quirks of autism

For most of us, telling a tale from our childhood is a simple, often spontaneous act. For people with autism, however, relating life experiences — whether from years ago or yesterday — can be a tall order.

Autism has an unusual effect on memory: It disrupts the recall of everyday events but often goes with an enhanced ability to hold onto facts. Many people with autism can master enormous amounts of detail about a chosen interest, be it the London transit system or the life of Georgia O’Keeffe.

These traits, among others, implicate the brain’s main memory hub, the hippocampus, in the condition. Preliminary studies in animals suggest that disruptions to the hippocampus and its circuits could underlie some of the cognitive difficulties common among people with autism1,2.

Some of these problems, such as trouble remembering social information, may stem from problems with memory per se. But others may relate to memory only indirectly.

“We’re recognizing that the hippocampus is really critical to a lot of the things that are clearly absent in autism — things like being able to flexibly make decisions based on past experiences,” says Loren Frank, professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Studies of the hippocampus could one day help to explain features of autism ranging from poor social skills to difficulty switching from one idea to another — an aptitude known as ‘cognitive flexibility,’ Frank says.

This brain region might also lend clues to therapy: People with autism may be able to use some unusual cognitive strengths to compensate for their weaknesses.

Social scripts:

The hippocampus’ name derives from its resemblance to a seahorse. In the 1950s, scientists established its role in memory after noting that people with a damaged hippocampus could not form new memories.

The anatomy of the structure may be somewhat atypical in the condition. One study of 8- to 12-year-olds found that children with autism have a larger right hippocampus than controls do, but this size difference diminishes as the children get older3.

The consequences of this anatomical oddity are unclear. But research hints that there are specific strengths and weaknesses in the way people with autism remember and learn.4

The hippocampus governs declarative memory, the conscious recall of facts and events. People with autism struggle with one aspect of declarative memory — autobiographical events. A detailed memory such as eating caramel corn at a carnival in yellow rain boots doesn’t stick in their minds5.

On the other hand, they are good at, and may even excel at, retaining names, dates and definitions, and other facts. These skills also fall under the purview of declarative memory. In one 2008 study, a group of individuals with autism with average or above-average intelligence named the objects in a series of pictures at least as rapidly and accurately as controls6.

In fact, declarative memory may help people with autism make up for some of their other difficulties, says Michael Ullman, professor of neuroscience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.7. Because they have trouble with social skills, they may memorize ‘scripts’ for, say, how to behave at a birthday party or what to say when meeting someone new.

Tongue-tied:

Although the hippocampus is often said to ‘store’ memories, it doesn’t function like a filing cabinet, says Frank. Instead, it’s more like an orchestra conductor, touching off patterns of activity elsewhere in the brain — in areas needed for processing sensory stimuli, emotions and so on — that result in the experience of a memory.

As a result, a glitch in the hippocampus, or its broader cognitive circuit, does not necessarily result in a memory storage problem. For example, people with autism may have trouble using memories to make decisions — a process that requires rapid toggling between internal thoughts and the external world. Deciding what to say in a conversation, for instance, involves listening to someone, registering their meaning and matching that with stored information and experiences — in milliseconds.

“Being able to switch attention back and forth is a critical aspect of our normal cognitive processes,” Frank says. “And that seems like something that may not be working well in autism.”

Frank and his colleagues have found that disrupting neural traffic between the hippocampus and areas of the cerebral cortex, the brain’s outer shell, in rats leads to autism-like repetitive behaviors8. These animals may resort to such repetition because they cannot flexibly respond to varied, unpredictable stimuli, Frank says.

Frank’s team is studying a rat model of fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition related to autism, to see whether the rats have abnormalities in hippocampal circuits.

Conflict resolution:

People with autism may also have trouble altering memories in the face of conflicting information. For example, boys with fragile X syndrome are just as good as controls are at remembering items on a list. But they struggle with tasks that require integrating knowledge from different sources.9 “They tend to have a deficit when they’re asked to do something that contradicts what they were initially asked to do,” says Andre Fenton, professor of neural science at New York University.

Fenton and his team are investigating these ideas in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome. They have found that fragile X mice can learn to avoid an area that delivers an electric shock. But when the shock zone moves, they are slow to learn its new location2.

The team has identified one unusual feature in the mice, in hippocampus cells that track an animal’s location in space: The firing patterns of the cells are highly similar, even in different conditions. “It’s almost like it’s hyper-perfect. It’s hyper-reliable,” Fenton says. These over-synchronized neural signatures may underlie the difficulties with cognitive flexibility in people with autism, Fenton says.

Strangers everywhere:

In August, researchers reported a connection between memory formation in the hippocampus and genetic risk for autism. They found that in mice, turning on or off certain autism-linked proteins contributes to neuronal changes thought to underlie learning and memory formation in the hippocampus10.

One part of the hippocampus may be especially relevant for social behavior. Studies in mice suggest that this region, known as CA2, is crucial to social memory — an animal’s ability to recognize and remember details about members of its own species.

This area has a high concentration of receptors for oxytocin, a hormone involved in social behavior and bonding. In a 2014 study in mice, a team led by Richard Tsien at New York University found that oxytocin directly increases the activity of CA2 neurons involved in establishing social memories.

In another study that year, a separate set of researchers engineered a mouse in which they could specifically silence CA2 neurons. The results were striking. The mice recognized familiar objects and found their way through a maze as adeptly as controls. And they were social, sniffing other mice placed in the same cage. But they lost their social memory: They treated mice they had met before as strangers, sniffing them just as much as they did new mice1.

The role of the CA2 region in autism is not yet known. “Clearly the symptoms of silencing CA2 are not identical to the symptoms of autism where loss of sociability is one of the key findings,” says Steven Siegelbaum, professor of neuroscience and pharmacology at Columbia University in New York, who led the study. But problems with CA2 neurons could contribute to low social aptitude in autism, he says.

Siegelbaum’s team has found impaired CA2 function and social memory in a mouse model of 22q11.2 syndrome, a genetic disruption linked to schizophrenia and autism11. The researchers are investigating possible disruptions in the region in mice lacking the autism-linked genes CNTNAP2, SHANK3 or NRXN1a. If changes in CA2 function are associated with autism features in the mice, the researchers plan to test whether increasing or decreasing the activity of neurons in this region alleviates these features, Siegelbaum says.

This sort of research raises the possibility that future treatments for autism could attempt to modify the function of specific types of hippocampal cells. In the meantime, people with autism may be able to use their solid grasp of facts to circumvent some difficulties. Many autism interventions draw on this strength, explicitly instructing children when to make eye contact or how to take turns rolling a ball back and forth.

“Declarative memory is a really powerful and flexible system,” Ullman says. “It can [be used to] learn all sorts of different compensatory strategies.”

Source”spectrumnews.org

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Writing about autism: ‘Parents are sick of being asked what special skill their child has’

It was at my first event for Shtum, almost exactly a year ago at Dulwich Books in London, when I first got a taste of the impact the book would have. Almost everyone asked me about autism. It may seem naive but I didn’t expect it. Despite having been a father to a non-verbal autistic son for almost 16 years, I had never had an in-depth conversation with anyone about the subject, apart from solicitors, barristers and doctors.

The event at the bookshop was something of a watershed in my life – and not an altogether comfortable one, for I had never been a joiner. No groups, no clubs, no societies, no Facebook groups, nothing. I had guarded my privacy and opinions. This had nothing to do with shame surrounding my son’s autism – far from it. But it was based on two long-held realisations of my own character: I hated confrontation and felt my opinions were of little value. And when one is crippled by the first, the second feels like pulling teeth. The first has not changed; the wrongness of the second, I am still coming to terms with.

So how did Shtum come about under such personal strictures?

It was born, using Pethadine and forceps, during a master’s in creative writing at City University, London. The course director told me I should write about autism. I told him I wasn’t going to. He may have mentioned the word “hook”; I may have replied with the word “bollocks”. And then I went home and thought about it and came back with two criteria: it had to be honest and it had to include genuine humour.

So I began writing and planning, and it quickly morphed into something wider, something thankfully beyond memoir – which I wanted to avoid at all costs – and into a work that discussed wider issues of communication and family secrets; how the ability to express oneself verbally is no guarantee of proper human communication.

During a first reading of 1,500 words above a pub in Clerkenwell, my current agent approached me – actually, within a couple of days, three other agents had emailed me hoping to see the finished manuscript, which was exciting and uplifting. But I still had to finish it. Finishing a novel is difficult – one as personal as mine even more so – but following many iterations and six weeks of anxiety after it was sent out, it was bought by Orion. And I thought the hard part was over.

And so back to the event at Dulwich Books. Autistic people and parents of autistic children are protective of their children and vocal critics of depictions of autism in the arts and media. That night I had extremely positive feedback from both groups. Subsequent events all over the country and online reviews have also proved to me that Shtum has provided a rallying point and, at the very least, solace to those parents of autistic children like mine who do not speak and who are sick of being asked what special skill their child possesses. I think the most often-used word in relation to Shtum has been “finally …”

I find this all humbling and gratifying. It has now been 10 months since the hardback was published. I have been a writer for 30 years, so the critical acclaim Shtum has received feels like a shock, but also a vindication of all the hard work that went into it.

As it is published in paperback, I am once again about to embark on a full schedule of readings, Q&As and panel discussions, most of which will no doubt focus on autism rather than the mechanics of writing. I think I’ve come to accept that if the mechanics are invisible, the story can shine even brighter – this has always been my experience as a reader – and I hope it continues to shine.

Extract

Emma waits in the kitchen because the smell makes her gag. So the day unravels like every other: bath running, Jonah standing half-sodden while I open the windows, remove the bedsheets and spray the mattress cover with disinfectant. The sheets I ball together with his reeking pyjamas. The aromatic nappy and soiled wipes get tied in a plastic bag, and in he hops –the bubble-covered water turning to consommé on contact. I clean him vigorously, showering off the stubborn bits, and dry him with his navy towel – any other provokes a tantrum. Dressed, I shoo him along the corridor for breakfast. That’s our division of labour – she deals with what goes in and I deal with what comes out.

source:.theguardian.com

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Adults with autism overcome childhood language challenges

Results of a small study of adults with autism at Johns Hopkins has added to evidence that their brains can learn to compensate for some language comprehension challenges that are a hallmark of the disorder in children.

Studies analyzing electrical activity in the brains of children with autism have shown that they have difficulty sorting out pairs of words that are unrelated—like “clock” and “frog”—from those that are related—like “baby” and “bottle”—making it hard for them to process written or spoken language. Moreover, investigators believed that for most children with autism, this struggle with language persisted throughout their lives.

Results of the new research from specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine, published in the March issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, suggests that at least some adults with autism process unrelated words as well as adults without the disorder and their brains use distinct learning strategies to do so.

“There is often an assumption that people with autism will always have problems understanding the meaning of language,” says Emily Coderre, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But our results suggest that adults with autism seem to use an alternative mechanism to process language that results in a different pattern in the brain.”

For the study, the researchers recruited 20 adults with autism spectrum disorder, considered mild to moderate. All participants had “normal” verbal abilities, according to standardized tests. Those with autism spectrum disorder were diagnosed by a specialist on the team based on their score on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Some participants were diagnosed early in life, and others not until adulthood. Many participants went to regular schools with special education tracks. Some participants had graduated high school, and some went through college. The research team also recruited a matching group of 20 participants without autism to serve as a comparative control group. Participants overall ranged in age from 18 to 69. Six were female, 35 were white, one was Asian, two were African-American, one was Hispanic and one was mixed race.

All participants completed a 90-minute computer task that asked them to decide whether two pictures or two words were related (e.g., baby and bottle) or unrelated (e.g., frog and clock). The task designers chose 400 pairs of tangible nouns, half of them in the form of words and the other half displayed as pictures.

One hundred of the noun pairs were related words, 100 were related pictures, 100 were unrelated words and 100 were unrelated pictures. The screen showed a picture or a word for 1 second and after a brief pause displayed the second picture or word.

While the participants completed the task, the researchers monitored their brain’s electrical activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG) that recorded activity from 256 electrodes. For their analyses, the researchers looked at the brain activity from nine small clusters of electrodes on the front left, middle and right of the head over the frontal cortex; in the left, middle and right of the top of the head over the central brain; and on the left, right and middle part of the back top of the head, where the parietal lobe is located.

When analyzing unrelated pictures or words, people with typical development have a spike on the EEG during the 200- to 800-millisecond window following the second word or photo, known as an N400 response. Researchers believe the N400 response reflects the brain’s ability to recognize that something is “off” and that two words or pictures aren’t related in a meaningful way.

When looking at related and unrelated pictures, the people with autism had the same N400 spike on the EEG readout as the people without autism.

Contrary to findings from earlier studies in children with autism, adults with autism also had the N400 spike in electrical activity on the EEG when looking at related and unrelated words. In the controls, the response occurred at 250 to 500 milliseconds in the front of the head and from approximately 400 to 800 milliseconds over the top and top rear of the head. The response in the adults with autism started later, from 400 to 800 milliseconds in both the top and top rear of the head.

From 400 to 800 milliseconds, the N400 spike was relatively evenly distributed over left and right sides of the head for the control participants, whereas in adults with autism, the spike was stronger over the right side of the head. Coderre says that these differences between the groups—an earlier onset of the N400 response for controls and a more right-sided N400 response for the adults with autism—suggest that the two groups used different strategies to think about the meaning of the words. She points out that overall, the adults with autism showed a similar N400 response to the controls, suggesting that they weren’t impaired at teasing apart the unrelated from the related words, contrary to previous studies in children with autism. “It appears that although the adults with autism in our study have brains that are ‘wired’ differently than those without autism, our findings strongly suggest this different wiring can still enable them to achieve good cognitive and language abilities, at least on this one measure,” she says.

“It is possible that some adults with mild or moderate forms of autism may have developed compensatory learning strategies that allow them to process language as well as people without autism,” says Coderre. She plans to repeat this experiment in children with mild to moderate autism to verify that the differences seen between adults and children are due to learned responses.

“If we can understand those compensatory strategies better, then teachers can use this information in language programs for children or those with more severe language deficits to help them develop these alternative strategies faster and earlier,” she adds. “I hope our study sends a hopeful message to people with autism or their parents.”

Coderre says that one limitation of her study is that they used single words for their analysis, simplifying it, whereas others in previous studies used full sentences in their study design, which may have affected the results. She also points out that they asked participants to think about whether the two words were related or not, which may have prompted them to use more explicit compensatory strategies. In future studies, she plans to repeat this experiment using an “implicit” task, in which participants aren’t told to think about the relationship between the words, allowing her to verify whether these results were due to learned compensatory strategies in adults with autism.

About 3.5 million people in the U.S. have autism, according to the National Institutes of Health, and about a quarter of those are nonverbal. Those with speech have difficulty with complex language processing, like understanding meaning, emotional states in the voice or metaphors.

Source:medicalxpress.com