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Autism Explored

December 18, 2013 by

 

You might have met someone with autism before.  Maybe they were in your family or at school.  If so, then you probably noticed the signs of autism.  Their behavior is different and in order to be diagnosed with autism, symptoms must be seen before the age of three.  Symptoms include impaired social interaction and communication (language) as well as impaired facial recognition, and poor socialization (won’t look you in the eyes).  These problems stem from issues with the development of the brain. 

            Much of it is due to genetics that causes synaptic dysfunction in many instances.  During development, the nerve cells in the brain do not connect and organize correctly.  Development of the brain is also dependent on the presence of essential fatty acids called PUFAs for short.  It is seen that these enhance neurite growth, promote neuronal survival, and modulate actions of neurotransmitters.  They are very important for the brain.  However, people with autism have less PUFAs and interestingly if a mother intakes them while pregnant, it improves the memory in their offspring. 

             I found it interesting that there are people who supposedly recover from autism.  A study was published just this year comparing optimal outcome (OO) individuals (people who had recovered from autism), people who developed normally (were never diagnosed with autism), and individuals who still had autism.  Being considered as optimal outcome meant that an individual had lost all symptoms of autism as well as the diagnosis.  Areas compared included language, facial recognition, socialization, communication, and autism symptoms.  The researchers found that optimal outcome and normally developing individuals had the same mean scores with the exception of three OO individuals who had lower than average scores.  These results support the possibility of people recovering from ASD and show that people with a positive diagnosis can return to an overall level of functioning within normal limits (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcpp.12037/pdf).  This shows how there can be hope of change for those who are born with autism.

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