Autism and the Ability to See Sound

A recent study by Joanne Jao Keen of San Diego State University found that people with autism may be recruiting the visual areas of the brain to process sounds they hear. This could explain the sensory sensitivities that people with autism typically face as both auditory and visual portions of the brain are being used to register sound.
In the study, children were presented with 36 different tones that differentiated between high and low pitches. The first finding was that children with autism had slightly more difficulty than the control group distinguishing a high note from a low one. The more interesting finding though, was the representation of the brain that Keen saw on the MRI while the children performed this task.
It appeared that in typical individuals, when there was sound the visual cortex of the brain would turn off to allow the auditory portion of the brain to process the tones. However, for the children with autism, the visual cortex of their brain (specifically the left lingual gyrus) became more active when tones were played. As Autism severity increased, the research showed a corresponding higher level of activity in the visual cortex when sounds were registered. It seems that children with autism try to process sound as visual stimuli and furthermore, it may be possible that the children with autism have a certain capacity for seeing sound.


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MIT Scientist Uncovers Link Between Glyphosate And Autism

A new study conducted by Dr. Stephanie Seneff from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory had shown that there is a link between Glyphosate and the increased rate in Autism.

Glyphosate is found in most of the pesticides and herbicides. Biotech scientists and others in the health and agriculture fields think that it is safe to expose humans to Glyphosate, however, findings in the new study indicate that the ingredient often used on genetically modified crops does indeed accumulate in human tissue.

According to a recent pilot study, Glyphosate can pass through breast milk and may cause an adverse health impact on a mother and her baby.

According to Dr Seneff, the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data show a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Glyphosate on crops with rising rates of autism.

Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.

Though Dr. Seneff’s findings are in the research stages, there are plenty of families that have autistic children who have chosen to drastically change their children’s diets, eliminating all pesticides, herbicides and as many neurotoxins as possible by eating organic food.

They often experience some incredible results by seeing improvement in their children’s speech patterns, cognitive abilities, and social skills in weeks, not years. This amounts to circumstantial evidence, but it supports Dr. Seneff’s claims.

Read the full story at

[Image via: GMO Awareness]

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Researching the “Loss” of an Autism Diagnosis

CONTACTUS-lostandfoundStudies state that 3 to 25 percent of children with autism lose their diagnosis. This makes parents and professionals wonder, did those who “recover”, truly have autism at diagnosis? Or do they still have autism, but have more subtle symptoms?

Dr. Deborah Fein, psychologist, has studied this phenomenon extensively upon realizing that many children diagnosed with autism improved significantly over the years, to the point of possibly being considered neurotypical. Like most clinicians, Dr. Fein believed autism was a lifelong condition. Dr. Fein and her team of researchers analyzed the diagnoses of 34 children with ASD, as well as their loss of diagnosis and improvement in symptoms.

The team analyzed communication skills, academic abilities, social skills, among other things. By all accounts, the group seemed to function no differently than those who never had autism. She elaborates, “They even did well with daily living skills, [which] can befuddle people with autism who have average and above-average intelligence.”

“[The word] ‘recovery’ carries so much baggage,” Dr. Fein states. “When you say ‘recovery’, it conjures up a period of normal development, then they have a disease, and now they’re recovered. Instead, this group reached an ‘optimal outcome’.”

The research team looked for remnants of ASD in the group that no longer qualified for a diagnosis, utilizing fMRI scans to measure brain activity as they each read short sentences aloud and answered various questions. Dr. Inge-Marie Eigsti, clinical psychologist, led the team to test 16 people with “optimal outcomes”, 23 with high-functioning autism, and 20 of their neurotypical peers.

The scans of the group with optimal outcomes resembled those of the group with autism, but also differed. This group appeared to use different areas of the brain for sentence comprehension tasks. Researchers believe they may have learned to compensate for their autism by using new pathways to process language. Dr. Fein states, “It’s a confirmation that they really were autistic when they were little. Early intervention may have helped them function typically, but they do not use the same areas of their brain as their peers who never had autism.” This study will need to be repeated to see if they receive the same results.

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Through play, children with autism can hone thinking skills (Source: Spectrum News)

Play provides some of a child’s first opportunities to rehearse social interactions, generate novel ideas, toy with symbolism and develop narratives — skills that serve us later in life, particularly in our highly social world. Indeed, children who engage in more complex play early in development show greater social competence at later ages. Add the opportunity to invite another person to play, or to follow another’s lead, and the foundation for working with others is set.

For children with autism, however, these opportunities do not present themselves so easily. Yet play is still an important developmental tool for these children. For clinicians, it represents a key arena for delivering therapies that could improve a child’s social skills, language and certain cognitive capacities.

Particular play:

Many children with autism show unusual features in their play starting early in life. These include reduced creativity and imagination, such as recreating scenarios from a television show verbatim. The play of children with autism also tends to have a persistent sensorimotor or ritualistic quality. For example, a child might repetitively arrange toys to mimic some observed play activity.

These play characteristics were part of the diagnostic criteria for autism for many years, but are not listed in the newest edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM). Still, the way children with autism play can provide clues to what skills they lack and highlight areas that warrant intervention.

Continue reading this story on  Spectrum News
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Bilingualism in Autism: Harmful or Beneficial? (Source: Scottish Autism)

Direct research into how speaking or hearing more than one language effects the development of children with autism is scarce. This means that families have little information to help them when deciding whether or not to raise their child with autism bilingually – a pressing question for the increasing number of families in our community who speak multiple languages.
More evidence that asks whether this “bilingual exposure” (i.e. hearing more than one language) might be harmful or beneficial to children on the spectrum is needed. As a foundation for this, a recently conducted study at the University of Edinburgh explores how 17 bilingual parents of children with autism (from a wide variety of language backgrounds) make choices about the languages their child heard and spoke. Based on the results of this study, and on the (limited) other published work in the area, the potential advantages and disadvantages of bilingualism for children with autism are outlined below.
What reasons are there not to raise a child with autism bilingually?
Many parents of children with autism in the study had concerns that exposing their child to more than one language would cause confusion and increase language delays. As a result, parents often dramatically reduced their child’s exposure to a second language after diagnosis. For instance, one parent commented, ‘I’m scared of putting in too much confusion, and he doesn’t understand anything at all. So, that’s why I just said, right OK, English and that’s it.’
Some parents reported that they were also advised by professionals to provide an English-only environment for their child. Unsurprisingly, for parents in the study, concerns about bilingualism were strongly related to their child’s speaking ability. Parents of more verbally able children tended to express more positive views of bilingualism, whereas those of children with limited speech showed greater concerns: ‘for any kid that’s like David or worse, when it comes to communication, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try several languages. It’s hard enough with the single one.’

Read more about this research on Scottish Autism site

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