Frank Duff, M.D. and Heidelise Als, Ph.D., both from Boston Children’s Hospital, just published a report of their large scale study that may lead to a new diagnostic tool for children with on the spectrum. Their work focused on children with more significant autism rather than “high functioning” children with Aspergers. They used EEG technology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003931.htm) to complete brain scans of 430 children with autism and 554 children without autism. All participants in the study were between the ages of 2 and 12.
One important aspect of this study was the researchers’ ability to make the EEG process more comfortable for children who are often averse to being in the loud and confined space required to conduct an EEG. Their findings also allowed them to accurately distinguish the brains of children with and without autism but identifying reduced neural connectivity throughout the brain, particularly in the left-hemisphere language areas. If this new approach can be replicated in other research, it may become a more widely-used part of a diagnostic evaluation process when young children are suspected of having autism.
For more information, visit http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120625203010.htm
By David R. Parker, Postsecondary Disability Specialist