Detecting Autism

Detecting Autism

There have been many debates regarding the causes of Autism. It is a question that has haunted many parents who wonder if they have done something wrong to cause their child to have Autism. Although some types of Autism have known causes, most are found to be idiopathic, or without a known cause. There are many theories as what causes autism, including vaccinations, immune deficiency, food allergies, genetics and many other theories. However, none of these theories have been proven.

You would think that with so much information available, someone would have figured out the cause of Autism by now; though, it is still seemingly a medical mystery. However, researchers from Boston Children's Hospital may have brought us one step closer to discovering the cause of Autism. The researchers have found that recent tests measuring the electrical activity in the brain can distinguish children with Autism from children with typical brains as early as 2 years of age. Their study was published last week in the online journal, BMC Medicine. Researchers compared raw data from the electroencephalogram tests, or EEGs, of 430 children with Autism and 554 other children from 2 to 12 years of age. Children with Asperger Syndrome did not participate in the testing. The researchers found that children with Autism had consistent EEG patterns showing altered connectivity between different parts of the brain. In general, they showed reduced connectivity compared with the other children's brains. As we get closer to pinpointing the brain's functions and its effects on human behavior, we grow closer to solving the mystery of the causes of Autism.

There are other ways to identify whether children have any type of autism, but many of these signs go unnoticed. Early detection, however, can have a huge effect how students progress and develop if they get early-intervention services to match their needs and support their development. There are also some known causes, including Depakote (also named Valproate), which is an anti-seizure medication taken during pregnancy; Fragile X syndrome, which is a genetic disorder; Rett Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder affecting only females, Tuberous Sclerosis, which is a rare genetic disorder; and Prader-Willi Syndrome, which is also a rare genetic disorder.

According to The National Association of School Psychologists, students with Autism are most often diagnosed by school staff. It may be possible, however, that the EEG patterns could change the way children are diagnosed. The researchers believe that their findings could lead to a diagnostic test for Autism, particularly at younger ages when behavior-based measures are less reliable. The researchers plan to next study the EEG patterns of children with Asperger Syndrome and children with Autism. This promises to reveal why it affects some children in one way and others in another.

Regardless of the cause, getting a good support system in place for your child is vital. If you are struggling with your child's school to diagnose and/or provide appropriate support to your child with Autism, we can help. Please visit for more information.