What Autism Is And What Autism Is Not

What is Autism? Actually, I am reluctant to provide a solid definition of what autism is. Science and the Internet are abuzz with so many extremely vague and very different definitions.

I’m not about to deliver the one and ultimately correct definition of autism. It is my intention to take a stand: if you have to define what autism is, then you should do it in a way that respects autistic people and takes them as they are.

I personally have come to the conclusion that it is not so important what autism is and whether autism is – but that is a path that everyone must walk for themselves.

What Autism Is Not What Autism Is
Autism is not a disease. Autism is a way of being, a state of spirit, a disposition.
Autism is not due to psychological illness. Autistic people are just so. Today, this suchness is mostly explained by the brain of people with autism being different from the non-autistic, so autism would be an “alternative brain design”, an unusual neurological “wiring”, a different kind of perception processing. From this perspective, the concept of “ancestral neurological diversity”: no two brains are alike and autism is a part of that diversity.
People on the autism spectrum are not all the same. Non-autistic people are different and individual, why should autistic people all be the same? Autism is a wide spectrum of different abilities, lifestyles, beliefs, etc. Some think that autistic people are different from non-autistic people, because they follow less the social peer pressure, which requires a certain adaptation.
Asperger’s syndrome and autism are not clearly distinguished. All the people who have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum (early childhood autism, Asperger’s syndrome, high functioning Autism, atypical autism…) are too diverse, and that makes it impossible to divide autism into two (or three or four) categories. This is an arbitrary criterion, e.g. the number of points on an IQ test. A person with 80 IQ points is considered to be “high-functioning”, one with 79 points as “low-functioning”. Or in language: a child who speaks at two years of age gets Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis, and one that begins to speak at three years gets an early childhood autism diagnosis. But what relevance do these criteria have? Today autism is usually considered a seamless continuum, and maybe the different categories will be replaced by a diagnosis of “Autism spectrum” in a few years in the diagnostic manual.
Autism is not a consequence of any kind of education (keyword “Refrigerator mothers”). Autism is not the result of emotional neglect, emotional stress, abuse or trauma. The theory that autism was caused by cold, unemotional mothers emerged in the 1950s, when by default the blame for this has been pushed to mothers, if their children were not so, as society wished them. Today we know better: you can educate a non-autistic child as well as you want, it will never be autistic ;-)
Autism is not uncommon. Recent studies calculate more than one percent of the people to be on the autism spectrum.
Autism affects not only children. Autistic children will not suddenly disappear when they are 18. Autistic children become autistic adults.
There is no “normal” person in an “autistic envelope”. Autism is not separable from the personality of autistic people. Autism colors every perception. Autism affects how someone thinks, feels, sees, responds and interacts. To wish Autism would disappear means to wish the person were someone else.
Autism is not “curable”. Autism is not “curable”, because:

  1. Autism is not a “disease”.
  2. Even if autism were a disease, there would be no procedure to make autism “go away”, at least for some time.
  3. Even if this were possible, most people on the autism spectrum would not want to be “cured”, because autism is an inherent part of their personality and to “cure” their autism would mean the extinction of their personality.
Autism is not a tragedy. Autism is often viewed negatively, especially in autistics who do not use spoken language. Maybe it is because they are unable to express themselves. However, there are many who began to speak at six or even only twelve years of age and have clear memories of the time when they did not speak; and they see this time often in a neutral to positive light.Although people on the autism spectrum live in this society, in principle, in a hostile environment and autism is constantly pathologized, many of them view autism positively. Many autistics like to be autistic and would not want to be “cured”. One may be autistic and happy.
Autism is not a new phenomenon. The first detailed description of a child that we would describe today as autistic, was written in 1799 by Jean Itard ( “The Wild Boy of Aveyron”).
Autism does not mean not being able to speak. Most people on the autism spectrum use, at least now and then, spoken language; some speak very, very much. Children who are diagnosed with Asperger’s begin to speak at the usual age. Others begin to speak at three, others only twelve, and still others never speak, but communicate through images, sign language or the computer.
If an autistic person learns to speak, that does not mean that it is no longer autistic. Although at times it is sold as a miracle cure, many autistics begin at some point to speak without therapy. That does not necessarily mean that they will become normal people at some point – but using spoken language is already good enough.
Autism is not apparent. Autistic people look like other people. You would probably not tell an autistic person from a non-autistic if you were to meet one.
Autism is not a mental disability. There are many very intelligent autistic people. Even non-speaking people on the autism spectrum are often intelligent.
Autism does not mean giftedness. Presumably, the intelligence distribution on the autism spectrum is the same as for non-autistic people: some learn very quickly and others take a little longer. Everyone has his or her individual talents and weaknesses.
Autists do not necessarily have a special talent like Rainman (savants). Savants are people who have an extremely unusual talent, eg enormous memory performance. This is very rare. A few autistic people have unusual abilities so that they are called savants. Many others are not. There are also non-autistic savants, even if there seems to be an above average number of them on the autism spectrum. Many people on the autism spectrum have outstanding abilities, but they are less spectacular.
Autism does not involve a general rejection of social contacts. Many autistic people want to feel free to contact others, but do not know what could be a socially appropriate method of contact. Other autistic people do not want any contact with other people. Like all people, autistics also want to be able to choose, with whom they spend their time, when and how, and when they should rather be alone.
Autism does not mean “unteachable”. Autistic people learn. But they learn differently from other people, and the schools are geared to non-autistic people. Autistic people who need or would need often a customized learning environment in order to realize their potential. Nonetheless, most children and young people on the autism spectrum in mainstream schools and are often not labeled as such.
Autism does not mean autistics can not lead an independent life. Some people on the autism spectrum need a lot of support from others, others live entirely without “special” support.
One should also bear in mind: everyone needs some form of support from other people. None of us lives as Robinson Crusoe. It is important that even people who need assistance of any kind, can live self-determined.
Autism does not mean having no feelings. Autistic people have feelings for other people, even if one doesn’t neccessarily notice them. There are also many people on the autism spectrum who have satisfied friendships, partnerships and families – really with feeling.
Autism does not mean to have no imagination. Some people on the autism spectrum have a vibrant, creative and unique imagination, others are completely unimaginative. Like other people as well. The stereotype that autistics have no imagination, came up because they concluded that autistics find it difficult to imagine social situations and to estimate what might happen next.
Not all people on the autism spectrum think in pictures. While some people on the autism spectrum have very strong visual thinking ( many fine artists , but also engineers do so), there are others that do not. Others, such as Donna Williams, are acoustically oriented, that is, to words and music.
Not all people on the autism spectrum like numbers and math. There are autistic people who are great mathematicians. Richard Borcherds, a professor at the University of Berkeley and winner of the Fields Medal is one of them. But there are also many people on the autism spectrum who do not like math at all and have great difficulty with it in school.

So what is autism?

Autism as a construct

Autism can also be regarded as a construct. That does not necessarily mean that autism does not exist, but it does mean that autism is a cultural concept. In other cultures you call the people, which we call autistic, otherwise – or they are not sorted into a separate category.

Autism as a cultural construct means to be aware that it is our culture which makes a particular behavior a problem. And only in such a culture, there are autistics. And In this culture, they are disadvantaged and often need “special” support.

Securing the conversion of your video file


If you look around, you’ll find that there is a lot of videos over the Internet. Now, most of them may not be able to provide you with the entertainment that you need, but there are definitely some videos that you could possibly love and laugh at. These are mostly video that has been converted into the SWF format, and if you do not have the swf player, then watching the videos in your computer can prove to be a tough task. Instead, you could go for trying to convert swf to avi. This could actually be a wonderful path for you to take, and you will be able to get the best possible video watching capabilities in your computer.

After all, there is a lot that can actually be told about Internet videos, and the kind of popularity that it does command. So, if you’d like to download a lot of SWF files, and would like to go for the conversion, then seeking out the help of Movavi SWF to video converter should be the best thing for you.

How wonderful and a convenient method is MovaviSwf to Avi converter can be found looking into the various kinds of reviews provided by clients over the Internet. You will find that this wonderful converter will not only add to your video collection, but you will also be able to get the best conversion underway. Not only that, you will actually command a lot of Internet videos, and most of it will be playable in your computer. So, you have got to make sure that each and everything can be done in terms of the conversion. As it is, the software files are extremely easy to procure, upon the payment of the money.

Yes, MovaviSwf to avi software is not free or even shareware. Rather, it is going to cost you the entire amount. However, there are discounts as well as free campaigns going to work all around the timeframe. You’ll definitely be able to get the best possible video conversion underway, without facing any kind of problems. The software campaign can easily setup, and the conversion can be done in batch processing, or individual. So, you need not worry about the processing as well as the loss of compression or any other factor in the conversion of the files from one format to the other.

Your Graying Hair is Not Your Bosses Fault

It is easy to blame your job on your increasing gray hair, but the truth is your work is only partially to blame for the transforming look. Despite the fact that the pressure from your profession can contribute not only to graying hair but also to baldness and other signs and symptoms of getting older, it’s not the only contributing factor.

The most common cause of gray hair starts at the root, as stated on Gaizupath.Com. A pigment known as melanin is injected into the follicles by melanocyte cells giving it your characteristic color. Growing older will slowly cause these tissues to die, leaving a lot of follicles without any pigment.

The strands remain their original gray color as they proceed to grow. Overtime, as the amount of melanin continues to decrease, your hair will eventually become completely gray.

Your own genetic makeup is the primary cause of gray hair. If one or both of your parents was prematurely gray, then there is a good possibility that you’ll be too. Other aspects can propel the method forward such as certain vitamin deficiencies, thyroid imbalance, anemia and viruses. Recent studies also suggest that smokers are four times to develop gray hair prematurely than non-smokers.

Traditional solutions to gray hair involve covering them up with dyes and coloring agents. These are temporary and harmful solutions to a problem whose cause is starting at the hair root. Today, people are more inclined to look for natural solutions to reversing the process that is producing your gray hair as opposed to just trying to hide the issue with hair colorants.

You’re going to discover a couple of products being offered that offer a natural hair color restoration solution in the form of a vitamin. These innovative vitamins are able to work by stimulating dormant melanocyte cells, thus increasing the amount of melanin being transferred into your hair follicles. This will actually beat your genetic makeup by pushing your body to produce more of the elements it needs to add your natural hair color to your strands.

As these vitamins get to work, they are reviving the dormant pigment producing cells and encouraging them to work on your hair. Results will vary depending on your age and amount of melanin which needs to be replaced, but you will start to see a difference after taking this vitamin in 4 to 9 months.

By using these vitamins regularly you are invigorating your hair follicles with a combination of capsicum, amino acids, and other essential minerals proven to work at preventing Nutrient Deficient Follicles (NDF). It is the lack of these vitamins and minerals that can be traced back to discolored hair and baldness.

When you add nutrients to your body and increase blood flow to the scalp you are encouraging those dormant melanocyte cells to begin their job of infusing melanin into your hair strands. This natural remedy will also work by removing any air bubbles that are restricting the passage of melanin inside of the strands of hair.

There is no reason to let gray hair get you down, or to blame its appearance on your hectic workload. Alternatively, make an appointment with a authorized dermatologist who can help you in deciding if this vitamin combination is suitable for you.

As soon as you start adding them consistently to your diet you will be rewarded with a healthy head of hair in the natural color you were born to have.

Autism and nutrition – Natural Enhancement Products – How Vitamins And Minerals Help You Every Day

oralhealthnutritionThere are voices that say autism spectrum disorders may be alleviated with  careful nutrition. The matter is still being debated, but until the experts have their verdict, why not take action and the nutrition part of treatment in your own hands? After all, it’s never a bad idea to know your vitamins!

Are you interested to learn the vitamins and minerals, aka, natural health products your body needs the most? Do you understand the details when it comes to shopping for supplements and natural enhancement products? Your diet needs these for you to remain as healthy as possible. Continue reading to learn more about what vitamins and minerals your body can benefit from.

Since vitamins must be processed and absorbed by the body, you should always be aware of how some Natural enhancement products like vitamins and supplements will react with each other. Calcium, for instance, makes it more difficult for the body to absorb iron. This means avoiding dairy within a half hour of an iron supplement, and you should avoid calcium and antacids during this time as well.

In order to live a healthy lifestyle, there are a certain amount of Natural enhancement products like minerals and vitamins you should consume in each meal. Fruits and vegetables are the best things to add to your diet. If you find this impossible, it is wise to turn to supplemental vitamins and minerals.

You can get vitamin D from milk and sun exposure. If you don’t like milk or live in a cloudy climate, get yourself a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D protects your bones and keeps them from becoming brittle.

To get more B2 vitamin into one’s diet, eat foods like diary and bananas. Having a deficiency can cause many issues like decreased hemoglobin and red blood cells, along with scaly skin and cracked lips. Studies show that riboflavin plays an important role in preventing cataracts, cancers, anemia and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Sometimes, eating healthy can get very expensive. Learn all you can about vitamins and minerals, including natural enhancement products from websites like http://naturalenhancementsreviews.com and use the knowledge to boost your immune system and start leading a better life.

Many citrus fruits and also vegetables contain that valuable vitamin C. natural_health_products_reviewSupplements can be taken if your diet is not rich in vitamins. Vitamin C is a great way to ward off colds. It also helps with things like acne, ulcers and even gum disease. Studies also show that vitamin C might help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and ADHD.

If you’re tempted to take your kid’s gummy vitamins, make sure you take several. Adults need more vitamins than children do, so one gummy won’t do you much good. However, don’t take too many. That is not good, either.

You need to eat more fresh produce and less canned. Not only should you get nutrients from what you eat, but taking mineral supplements and vitamins without chemicals is also important.

Before buying any vitamins and minerals, have a checkup to see if you are suffering from any deficiencies. Deficiencies are the first thing you need to target with supplementation, so it’s good to know just which ones you need first.

It’s easy in these hard times to eat cheap food and not worry about getting the proper nutrition. Essential vitamins, minerals and natural enhancement products not only boost your immune system, they can also boost your energy levels.

Use only reputable sources when it comes to vitamins and minerals. Most ads will focus on product selling and not on your health. Question all material you review regarding your health. Your doctor is the best place to start if you are not sure.

Lots of medications, store-bought or prescription, can react negatively when taken in tandem with vitamin supplements. Some potential interactions can put your very life at risk. Make sure you always tell your doctor about any supplements you take on a daily basis. Always consult a pharmacist about possible side effects when you purchase OTC medications.

Eat raw vegetables with your meats at night. Cooking often depletes food of vitamins. Steaming is the best way to retain nutrients in vegetables. Frozen vegetables have lots of vitamins in them as well, just don’t overdo the cooking.

Are you aware that depression can be brought on by low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and Vitamin D? Omega-3 is something that is popular, and there are a lot of good reason as to why. It helps with brain and body health. Magnesium is a great supplement that will calm down your body.

Vegetables have the greatest amount of nutrients when consumed steamed or raw. Cooking produce leads to vitamin depletion. Raw is best, but steaming still lets you keep a lot of the nutrition in the vegetables. Vegetables that have been flash frozen contain high levels of vitamins as well as long as you do not cook them too long.

Speak with a doctor to find the right multivitamin for you. Look online for credible facilities to locate vitamins that are risky. Keep in mind that the FDA does not have their eye on supplements, so you have to look into things on your own.

Clearly the benefits of vitamins and some natural enhancement products are worth examining. If your diet does not include certain vital substances, your health could be in danger. Fortunately, taking supplements and some other natural health products can help make up for anything your diet lacks, so keep what you learned here in mind.

Is Autism a Side Effect of Garcinia Cambogia?

garcinia-cambogia-side-effectsDo Garcinia Cambogia diets cause autism in women who follow them and/or in their offspring?

While there were claims from various quarters of heightened autism spectrum disorders associated with Garcinia intake, an ongoing survey from http://www.ehealthme.com/quick_search/garcinia shows this is not likely the case.

But what is Garcinia Cambogia and what are its known side effects?

Garcinia Cambogia is a variety of a plant native to Indonesia. This plant contains HCA (hydroxycitric acid), an acid that recently started to be used in weight loss support due to its observed benefits. There doesn’t seem to have been any official study prior to the initial release of the supplement, and it took off by popular fashion.

Garcinia Cambogia’s side effects

But did it evidence any side effects? The Ehealthme survey reported officially no negative effect to the use of Garcinia Cambogia so far.

So, there seem to not be any negative or counterproductive effects from your intake. But the responsibility rests with you to carefully choose your provider, for product purity. The supplement should consist of 100% natural ingredients which are properly assimilated by the body.

The pure extract of Garcinia Cambogia is a completely natural solution that can easily help the efforts to lose weight, apparently offering fast and secure results.

The hydroxycitric acid present in the extract of Garcinia Cambogia is one of the most important elements for proper weight management. This acid is unique in that it regulates appetite and above all, helps to reduce the amount of food ingested during meals.

Recommendation: Garcinia Cambogia Slim seems to be a safe brand to use.

The benefits provided by Garcinia Cambogia

It has three main benefits:

•    Prevents excess sugar and carbohydrates to become fat in the body, reducing the activity of the enzyme called Acetyl Coenzyme A. This Coenzyme reduces the quantity of appetite-increasing glycogen in the muscles and in the liver, allowing thus to send a message of satiety to the brain.

•    Garcinia Cambogia increases the energy level and helps to decrease the production of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the body. This caters to a healthy cardiovascular system.

•    This extract is also an excellent nutritional supplement that favors an increase in the level of serotonin in the brain, consequently improving the general mood. In the traditional medicine of India, Garcinia cambogia has been used to treat open wounds and various skin diseases.

The results you can expect from using Garcinia Cambogia have been proven by several studies. Investigations show that the use of Garcinia Cambogia is a fit and effective choice in order to lose weight.

In humans, the first study was conducted in 1987. In this study, the extract was given to a group of obese men, with an average of 220 pounds each.

A week later, these men had lost an average of 3.45 lbs.

Another study was carried out in 1991. An average of 54 obese men were subjected to the consumption of 500 mg of Garcinia cambogia three times a day. These men consumed the extract and lost on average, after a two-week period, an approximate amount of 11.1 pounds. All these people were following a low fat diet.

Pharmaceutical companies today offer slimming products containing Garcinia Cambogia extract, such as bars, chewing gum, or nutritional supplements in powder form.

Supplements of Garcinia cambogia can be purchased online. However, in the search for a good supplement it is recommended to review information labels to check the ingredients and make sure you have at least 50% HCA (hydroxycitric acid).

The consequences of prolonged use of Garcinia Cambogia

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, to date there have not been significant side effects associated with the intake. However, there are certain user groups such as pregnant women and nursing mothers who are advised to avoid consumption of Garcinia Cambodia (as a simple precaution, not by any known or official counter indication).

Dozens of children with autism lose therapy grants in Spain.

  • The Ministry of education argues that the kids are already being treated in their schools

A therapy session for children with autism in a Valencia center.

The Ministry of education is denying aid that until now was paid to students with autism for special pedagogical retraining and language classes. Dozens of families in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) who have not received the aid this school year are trying to reverse the situation by sending the therapy bills and certificates from operators of support centers. After the denunciation of these families, the El Pais newspaper has contacted several associations in all Spain and has found the case of 15 of the Spanish Federation of autism-FESPAU groups, which had asked 20,000 euros each for these therapies. For the first time they have denied them also and are waiting to know the reason. The organizations are located in Murcia, Madrid, the Balearic Islands, Cantabria, Cordoba and Santander.

Schools have to sign a paper calling for help after school

Not receiving the necessary therapy can take a person with autism back in their evolution and make them lose quality of life. The Ministry argues they already receiving enough help in the special centres they attend. Families continue to benefit from the NNEE (special needs) grants dedicated to help in material (up to 204 euros), school dining (up to 574) or transport (up to 617). But support for therapy was the most expensive, up to 913 euros a year. In Alcalá de Henares 62 aid packages were requested, and two have been accepted. “Last year we were given 3,300 euros in total, between NNEE and ICT (information technology), grants to projects of support within the Center”, says Alberto Baliñas, social worker of APTACAN Autism Cantabria Association, serving 52 families.

Pilar Vidal, President of Astea Henares, maintains that public centers “have very limited means and too many students, and sometimes professionals, despite their personal interest and efforts, are not sufficiently trained in autism and further training for them is not financed”. But she is not giving up: “It’s frustrating, unfair and immoral. The Administration should spare no money in areas as fundamental as health, culture and education”.

“They feel that they are asking something that does not belong to them,” says a therapist.

“What has happened is that before it was more lax, less rigid, and now with the crisis it’s not as if the requirements have changed, it’s that they comply more strictly than before”, says Javier Arnaiz, Counselor of the school for children with autism of Burgos. “You have to justify very well why you need more support if you have a speech therapist for four classrooms with six to eight students each”, he continues. In Castilla y León, one just needs a signed certificate to apply for therapy in very specific cases. “A student with a cochlear implant – for improved hearing – or a very specific therapy for someone with cerebral palsy”.

In the private Center Kaplan of Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid) 30 of his patients have requested grants. In other years 27 were granted, but this time 22 have already been denied and the eight others have been asked for their bills, but that doesn’t mean that they go to grant. They are not only children with autism. Some suffer from Down syndrome, attention deficit or are undiagnosed. Noelia Pavón, the Director, describes this dramatic situation. Five kids have left the Center and the parents of others intending to recover the grant money – as in previous years – don’t know now how they will repay the loans to relatives. Two days a week of speech therapy cost 120 euros per month. “We coordinate ourselves with schools to work different things. It is not that their professionals do not know how to handle them, it’s more that they are used to pay a collective attention and our children need individualized attention”, explains Pavón, shocked by the guilt feeling that hurts the parents. “They feel bad, as if they were asking for something that does not belong to them and actually meet the requirements of income and needs.”

“We spend 700 EUR per month because each session is worth 40 euros”, says a mother

Kids need therapy to improve their capabilities of social and emotional empathy, to be able to communicate or to enhance their imagination. “My son already gives hugs and is learning how to show his feelings. If he is sad or tired”, says Rosa Belda, mother of a 11 year-old child with autism. They have been denied the aid for therapy, but with effort they continue paying 300 euros a month. “We don’t have money, but I’ll save from shopping, and my other two children do not go to afterschool classes”. She knows of cases of children who have already left the treatment. Such as some twins with parents without means. Or as Inma, an auxiliary nurse, with her husband unemployed and three sons, who is raising a 13 year-old child with autism, complaining that her child does not go to therapy. “Therapy is a priority, but I must feed him first… I have to dress him and buy him shoes”. She maintians that in school “they focus on the curricular attention” and in therapy “they focus on other things, like social or technical skills of problem solving”.

“It is the inspector who makes the assessment of the need for treatments. That’s why there may be differences from one area to another. They agree on the criteria locally, and there occur differences from one community to another,” explains Enrique Blat, of the Valencian Association of persons with autism.

“My son learns there to show his feelings”, explains somebody else

Other communities also tell how since the crisis started aid has been diminishing. “It’s been fou or five years since they stopped granting aids for therapy for children going to special schools”, explains the Association of relatives of people with autism of Asturias. “They are for those who go to special units in regular schools. For better or worse, with the aid plus some 100 euros a month, the therapy is covered”.

“In our case, children who go to integrated schools never have received this type of aid”, explains Amaya Áriz, President of the Association for autism in Navarra. Their organization takes care of 80 children with a speech therapist and a psychologist, in addition to swimming and adapted judo courses. Members subsidize for families who cannot afford it. “We have eight families who depend on our help,” says Ariz. “Of our annual budget, only 1% comes from public funding: a hundredth part of what is needed”. She is directly affected: she pays out-of-pocket for her son’s speech training. “We spend 700 euros a month, because each session is worth 40 euros. If a child has autism, he’ll need daily therapy”.

New Evidence on the Prenatal Origin of Autism

More and more evidence points to a genetic basis for autism. It is unclear what exactly causes genes to generate these alterations in brain formation so they affect some of its areas. It is hypothesized that these genetic alterations have an environmental origin, and every day we find more evidence of how certain chemical compounds, both by themselves and in combinations – affect the body and alter the genetic quality, and therefore inheritance. But what is more and more apparent is that autism has a prenatal origin, i.e. the child is born with a series of changes that will cause the visible signs of autism to appear to a greater or lesser extent.

A team of researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have conducted a study (1) on brain tissue to try to find structural differences between the brains of people with autism compared to people without any disorder. For this purpose they focused on the study of the prefrontal cortex, located on the outer region of the brain. This brain area was chosen because it is one of the first that develops. This area builds on 6 layers that are shaped during development of the baby in the womb. And during that process, each cortical layer develops its own specific types of brain cells, each cell type is constructed based on a genetically predefined pattern and form the cerebral network that will be responsible for brain connectivity, which among other functions processes information.

Because the cortex is formed before birth, the results suggest that autism starts in the womb, the researchers say. “The results suggest that between the second and third quarter,” said lead researcher Eric Courchesne, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego.

Neocortex patch sign of autism

Post-mortem brain tissue analysis revealed areas of disorganized neurons as spots. The arrows show the decrease or lack of expression of genetic markers in a spot through multiple layers of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Photo: Rich Stoner, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

These genetic patterns are a signature or specific marker for each type of brain cells, and therefore each layer displays a genetic pattern that is visible in the conformation of the structure. And certain key markers were not found in samples of tissue from children with autism.

And this is where the researchers found the greatest differences. In the study, researchers examined post-mortem brain tissue samples from 22 children aged 2 to 15 years old, 11 with autism and 11 without the disorder, and detected small areas of arrested development scattered throughout the outer layers of the brain (neocortex) of children with autism, a direct evidence of prenatal origin. That is to say, during the prenatal development process of the brain, there occurs an alteration observed in focal patches mainly in the frontal and temporal areas.

If we consider that the frontal cortex is associated with higher-order functions of the brain, such as communication and understanding complex social cues, whereas the temporal cortex is associated with language, the discovery suggests these are precisely two of the areas most affected in autism. However, the visual cortex, a brain area associated with perception, showed no abnormalities, even though there exists a body of evidence about visual disturbances in autism. However, to the extent that the connection between these different areas presents alterations, this implies there will be alterations in the way information is processed, conducting thus to altered sensory perception issues, which in turn leads to the the global information processing to present alterations.

One aspect that struck the researchers is that the spots vary in severity and location. This may explain the wide range of symptoms seen in the disorder. The study found that in 10 of the 11 samples of children with autism, markers of several layers of the cortex were absent, compared with only 1 of the 11 control samples. In addition, these symptoms are not spread throughout the brain surface, but are located in focal spots 5-7 mm (0.20 to 0.28 inches) long and spanning multiple cortical layers. Considering the size of the cerebral cortex is the size of a basketball, this finding becomes even more important.

But also, being able to identify genes involved in the processes of creation of the brain, it means that a door opens to trace the origin of the genetic error that generates this alteration, and even use it as a biomarker in the not too distant future to help develop a clinical test for the immediate detection of the presence or absence of autism, long before the onset of the first signs, and therefore to prevent its occurrence.

3D Recreation

In turn, this research gives us a key to understanding why the neuronal pruning that usually occurrs around six months of age in the brain of babies, does not happen in boys with autism, and causes the brain of children with autism to have a larger size.

The researchers say these irregular defects, unlike the uniform cortical pathology may help explain why many children with autism show clinical improvement with early treatment and in time. That is, an early intervention could force the brain to seek alternative routes or even to repair faulty connections by circumventing the damaged areas. This also would explain how some children manage to have so many advances and even go out the spectrum, after an intensive early intervention and aimed at improving the core deficits of autism, increasing the hope that understanding these alterations may open new avenues to explore how such improvement occurs.

Although the study sample is small and it is important that this study be replicated with a larger number of samples, the result has sufficient coherence to open a new path of research with a much more defined method and knowing exactly what one needs to search for.

1. Rich Stoner, Maggie L. Chow, Maureen P. Boyle, Susan M. Sunkin, Peter R. Mouton, Subhojit Roy, Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, Sophia A. Colamarino, Ed S. Lein, Eric Courchesne. Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism. New England Journal of Medicine, 2014; 370 (13): 1209 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1307491

A Mathematical Algorithm Uncovers Traces of Autism (part II)

Exposing patterns:

Study results are preliminary, but they offer proof of concept that the method can link certain behavior, or phenotype, to a specific genetic structure or genotype. The signatures of shared behavior may indicate shared gene pathways that lead to behaviors, which in turn could hint at the cause of autism.

“The power of the machine learning of the vector support system is that you can find hidden patterns, ie patterns that were not detected by statistical analysis without conventional supervision” says Hilgo Bruining, assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Utrecht, who also led the study.

The researchers plan to sift through large sets of behavioral and genetic data of individuals with idiopathic autism. If the algorithm can identify new behavior signatures inside these sets of data, it may be able to divide into subgroups of autism and concentrate on the genome areas responsible with the disorder subtypes.

However, some experts call for caution with this line of reasoning.

Valsamma Eapen, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Australia, who was not involved in the study, says: “As should have been expected, the phenotypes of autism could be spaced around a diverse set of genetic lesions, suggesting that these results mean different types of autism are an exaggeration”.

For their study, the researchers analyzed behavioral data in the  medical records of 322 people at the University of Utrecht Medical Center in the Netherlands and the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. The subgroups diagnosed with each of the six autism-related syndromes, comprised between 21 and 90 people.

In particular, researchers worked with data from 37 behaviors, including verbal rituals, imaginative and unusual occupations in their system.

On the task of distinguishing between the six syndromes, the algorithm correctly identified a behavioral syndrome signature 63% of the time.

“Sixty-three percent is a bit low, but it’s not intended to be an absolute,” says Wall.

The algorithm was more accurate when two syndromes were compared simultaneously. For example, it could distinguish the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome from the Chromosome 15 isodicentric with 97% accuracy, its best performance. It has been worse when it comes to distinguishing the syndrome from five other disorders.

To test the algorithm in cases of autism, researchers look at behavioral data of 1,261 persons selected in the Autism Genetic Research Exchange (AGRE). However, this data does not include information on whether people are diagnosed with one of the six syndromes, so the algorithm can only generate a probability that each identification is correct.

Within the first sample of 375 people from AGRE, the algorithm classified 255 people with behavior signing of the tuberous sclerosis complex with a 61 percent chance that this analysis is correct. The figures for the other syndromes were lower, with several of them in the range of 40 percent and with the Down syndrome, again the lowest, at 25 percent probability of accuracy.

The researchers then repeated the test with two sets of 443 people each, yielding similar results.

In general, they say, the pattern of social difficulties is the most useful to help identify syndromes. This suggests that the social impairment, such as extreme social avoidance seen in people with fragile X syndrome may be related to certain genetic risk factors, the researchers say.

Eapen says he expects to see studies in which the cause of the disorders and the underlying mechanisms are better outlined.

“In these deletion syndromes, no one is sure that the genes are linked to autism and how it affects the size of the demonstrations and duplications of genes or phenotypes,” said Eapen. “This study sets the stage for a closer look at diagnosis in cohort selection based on genetic damage.”

A Mathematical Algorithm Uncovers Traces of Autism (part I)

Math algorithm detects autism syndromeAutism is defined according to a variety of behavioral symptoms, but it is precisely this variation – along with a complex genetic background – which makes it difficult to connect behavior to the underlying genes.

A new algorithm can make this challenge a little easier to solve. The algorithm, which uses a form of artificial intelligence to learn as it goes, analyzed behavioral data and has learned to recognize six genetic disorders associated with autism, according to research published February 11 in the journal of Molecular Autism.

Researchers hope to use these behavioral signatures to narrow their search for the genetic bases of ‘idiopathic autism’, for which there is no known cause.

“There was a way to assume that genetic risk factors were likely to lead to a set of distinct behavioral phenotypes, but many researchers have never formally proven what they previously proposed,” says researcher Patrick Bolton, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Kings College London. “That was the motivation for this project.”

Previous studies have sought ways in which different syndromes may come from shared molecular or neurological pathways, but showed no clear consensus on how.

The new robot learning technique called support vector, performed screening through large volumes of data to find recognizable patterns that can be used to subdivide a group of people. The system searched through health information of individuals diagnosed with one of six genetic disorders linked to autism: 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (also called DiGeorge syndrome), Down syndrome, Prader-Willi, Tuberous Sclerosis, Klinefelter Syndrome and chromosome 15 isodicentric or idic, which is caused by a duplication of a segment of chromosome 15.

The method was able to identify specific behavioral signatures for each syndrome. To this end an algorithm was built that can find the same types of signatures in the behavioral data of individuals with idiopathic autism.

The researchers tested their algorithm on three samples with a total of 1,261 individuals with autism and found instances of all six signatures.

“What I find most impressive about this study is that it is expanding its classification for idiopathic autism and is showing these signatures,” says Dennis Wall, associate professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University, who has used the automated learning to develop diagnostic tools for autism, but was not involved in this research.

“It suggests that we might be able to use this, or methods like this, to find a firm genotype-phenotype correlation that can act as a gravitational force to make sense of what is now a very mixed and complex picture,” says Dennis Wall.

Identifying Autism in Children

Autism is usually congenital and is manifested in children between 18 months and 3 years old.

How to identify autism in children

An estimated 1 in 150 children of school age could present an autism spectrum disorder.

The first symptoms are usually the child loses speech, does not look others into the eyes, seems to be deaf, has obsession with certain objects, or shows complete disinterest in social relations with others.

    1 Definition.

The Confederation for Autism in the UK defines autism as part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a complex set of disorders that affect development of the nervous system and brain functioning, particularly in aspects related to the processing of information coming from social stimuli.

    2 Causes.

All the experts agree on the same thing: the cause, or causes, are yet to be discovered. Clearly this is not a single biological cause, but you have to consider several factors that may be involved. In most cases hereditary factors must be considered. However, genes alone can not explain all the variations that occur within the spectrum of autism. We must take into account the interaction between the genetic potential and biological environment before and during birth.

In any case the evidence of biological and organic casual mechanism in autism is overwhelming. It has been shown that there is no causal relationship between attitudes and actions of parents and mothers and the development of autism.

Dr. Eduardo R. Hernández González, a pediatrician and child behavior therapist, mentions some theories about the origin of autism:

  •     Genetic theories. Initially considered a mechanism of recessive autosomal transmission, is currently thought that there are less than 10 genes that act multiplicatively. The theory also notes the so-called fragile X syndrome, ie the lack of substance in the distal end of the long arm of the chromosome as cause of the autistic syndrome.
  •     Neurobiological Theories. There is talk of abnormalities in neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin that is increased in children with autistic syndrome that alters brain functioning. Other research talks about changes in the cerebellum, alterations in brain volume in the cerebral cortex and the limbic system.
  •     Psychological theories. The socio-affective theory is that autistics lack constitutive components, which prevents them to interact with others emotionally; The cognitive theory says that cognitive deficits are due to a condition that is called metarepresentational, which is enables children to develop simulated play and can attribute mental states with content to others; The affective and cognitive theory, which posits that social and communication difficulties are rooted in a primary affective deficit that is closely related to cognitive deficits.

    3 Characteristics of autism.

All people with autism share different characteristics that define these disorders. In general, their interaction skills with others are very different from the usual. In some cases they may present an important social isolation, or not show much interest in relating to others. However, at other times they can try in a strange way, without really knowing how, without taking into account the reactions of the other person. On the other hand, they often have impaired verbal skills and nonverbal communication, which can range from not using any language to fluent language skills, but do not know how to use them to maintain two-way communication.

    4 symptoms of childhood autism.

There are some typical symptoms that can occur between 18 and 36 months:

  • Apparent deafness, does not respond to calls and indications. Seems to hear some things and not others.
  • Does not pursue members of the family around the house, nor extends its arms from the crib to grab you. Seems to ignore you.
  • When collected from the crib or the park, does not smile or is glad to see the adult.
  • Does not point the finger and look at the adult to check that the latter is also looking where he pointed.
  • Does not point the finger to share experiences or to ask.
  • Has difficulty with eye contact, almost never does it, and when it does, there are times when it seems to look through, as if nothing is standing before him.
  • Does not look at the people and what they are doing.
  • When it falls, it does not cry and does not seek comfort.
  • It’s too independent.
  • Reacts disproportionately to some stimuli (it is very sensitive to certain sounds or textures).
  • Does not respond when called by name.
  • Prefers to play alone.
  • Does not say goodbye.
  • Can not play with toys.

From 36 months on, some behaviors are different from the above:

  • Tends to ignore children of his age, does not play with them or seek interaction.
  • Presents a repetitive gameplay and uses objects inappropriately, eg constantly rotates objects, plays with bits of paper in front of his eyes, aligns objects etc.
  • It can make stereotyped or repetitive movements such as hand-flapping, hopping, rolling… tiptoeing.
  • Lack of language, or it is repetitive and without apparent meaning with inappropriate voice tone. Does not say things that used to say before.
  • Does not imitate.
  • Avoids eye contact and touch.
  • Seems comfortable when he is alone and has trouble accepting changes in his routine.
  • Has unusual attachments to certain objects.
  • Has many tantrums.
  • He’s in his own world.

It is a cause of absolute alarm (total need for specialist assessment) if:

  • There’s no babbling or gestures for interaction within 12 months.
  • Does not say single words within 16 months.
  • Does not say full sentences at 24 months.
  • Any regression or loss of skills acquired at any age.

    5 Treatment.

Currently there is no cure for autism. However, there are factors that will have an important impact on the development of the person and on their quality of life. It is essential that the diagnosis is made early so that the child receive appropriate early intervention. Educational and community resources should be appropriate to their individual needs and should have a support network to facilitate their social participation.

People with autism continue to develop and learn throughout their lifetime. The characteristics that define them do not disappear upon reaching adulthood. Thus, the quality of life of the person and their family will be influenced by the accessibility to appropriate interventions and supports that meet their individual needs, and maximize their learning opportunities, social inclusion and personal development.