Early Treatment Sparks Striking Brain Changes in Autism

autism researchThe human brain is similar to a sponge, the earlier it begins to absorb, the earlier the knowledge will begin to accumulate. Whether the knowledge is behavioral or communicable, it possesses the ability to project remarkable and significant changes and increased overall functionality of the human brain.

Researchers have shown through many enlightening and influential studies of the brain, the significant importance of this research. Many new studies on autism spark a revelation of new treatments, in order to change the world of autism as we know it.

A recent study was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders by Yale Child Study Center researchers Dr. Fred Volkmar, Kevin A. Pelphrey, and their colleagues. The results of this remarkable study revealed striking changes in the brain of autistic children. This study was proven through a behavioral program called pivotal response treatment.

The pivotal response treatment involves parent interaction, and involves a method of play as well. Children with autism are diagnosed by the recognition of ASDs, which are complex neurobiological disorders. These disorders challenge a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, often accompanied by behavioral challenges as well.

This study proved that the earlier a child with an autistic disorder is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin to enhance the overall functionality of the brain. The study was performed using functional magnetic resonance imaging. This is a form of testing measuring the activity within the brain. Researchers performed the pivotal response treatment with two five-year-old children with ASD.

The results displayed that children who receive pivotal response treatment had improved behavioral and communication skills. Researchers are continuing to evolve this study by conducting research on a group of 60 children. The study revealed that this treatment has a different impact on every child. The increased productivity of the brain varied depending on each child. Some children functioned on a much higher level than other children.

Another study performed by a psychologist, Steven Gutstein, called Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) was based on the study that individuals on the autism spectrum seemed to lack certain necessary abilities in order to adapt in a real life environment.

Gutstein classified these abilities into the following categories, Emotional Referencing, Social Coordination, Declarative Language, Flexible Thinking, Relational Information Processing, Foresight and Hindsight.

  • Emotional Referencing: The ability to use an emotional feedback system to learn from the subjective experiences of others.
  • Social Coordination: The ability to observe and continually regulate one’s behavior in order to participate in spontaneous relationships involving collaboration and exchange of emotions.
  • Declarative Language: Using language and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite others to interact, share perceptions and feelings and coordinate your actions with others.
  • Flexible thinking: The ability to rapidly adapt, change strategies and alter plans based upon changing circumstances.
  • Relational Information Processing: The ability to obtain meaning based upon the larger context. Solving problems that have no “right-and-wrong” solutions.
  • Foresight and Hindsight: The ability to reflect on past experiences and anticipate potential future scenarios in a productive manner

 The research presented above reveals the importance of continuing research of the human brain, especially the study of those with ASDs. In Laura Saracino’s article , Brain Tissue Samples Needed for Autism Research, she explains that there is a new effort currently underway to increase brain tissue donation from those with autism spectrum disorder after many of the world’s brain samples available for autism research were lost earlier this year.

“By connecting autism to genetic markers we can further understand how these disorders work and develop more advanced diagnostics and treatment options.” Therefore, in order to continue to see new and innovative treatments and studies, such as the Pivotal Response Treatment and Relationship Developmental Intervention (RDI), the continued research of ASD is essential.

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