Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASDs)
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people. ASDs are "spectrum disorders." That means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.
There are three different types of ASDs:
Autistic Disorder (also called "classic" autism)
This is what most people think of when hearing the word "autism." People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability. Asperger Syndrome People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability. Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called "atypical autism")
People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges. (www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html)
Analysis of Abilities Relating to This Area of Diversity
A new study has shown that the pattern of brain responses to words in 2-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder predicted the youngsters' linguistic, cognitive and adaptive skills at ages 4 and 6. The findings are among the first to demonstrate that a brain marker can predict future abilities in children with autism. In the study, 2-year-olds – 24 with autism and 20 without – listened to a mix of familiar and unfamiliar words while wearing an elastic cap that held sensors in place. The sensors measured brain responses to hearing words, known as event-related potentials.
The research team then divided the children with autism into two groups based on the severity of their social impairments and took a closer look at the brain responses. Youngsters with less severe symptoms had brain responses that were similar to the typically developing children, in that both groups exhibited a strong response to known words in a language area located in the temporal parietal region on the left side of the brain. This suggests that the brains of children with less severe symptoms can process words in ways that are similar to children without the disorder. In contrast, children with more severe social impairments showed brain responses more broadly over the right hemisphere, which is not seen in typically developing children of any age. The researchers also tested the children's language skills, cognitive abilities, and social and emotional development, beginning at age 2, then again at ages 4 and 6. The children with autism received intensive treatment and, as a group, they improved on the behavioral tests over time. But the outcome for individual children varied widely and the more their brain responses to words at age 2 were like those of typically developing children, the more improvement in skills they showed by age 6. There’s a wide variation in how ASDs affect children. For example: Some children with an ASD may have very few language skills, while others speak easily but aren’t good at using language to communicate with other people. Some are extremely intelligent, while others have severe cognitive impairments. Some may not have any atypical behaviors that are immediately noticeable, while others have behaviors that may look very...
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