What is Autism?

A pervasive developmental disorder, autism affects information processing in multiple ways. Many people with autism have difficulties with social interactions and communication, sensory deficits, and poor motor coordination. Autistic people often have restricted interests and engage in repetitive behaviors.

Because autism's symptoms vary greatly, it's said to exist on a spectrum, and is increasing referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. (Asperger's is a condition often referred to as "high functioning" autism.) Some people with autism have low intelligence while others are quite intelligent.

Autism usually manifests by age two. It affects far more males than females. The frequency of diagnosis has surged over the past 20 years. No one knows for sure what causes autism, but numerous studies link it to advanced maternal and/or paternal age at conception.

Reports implicating mercury-containing vaccines have proved baseless, although there is some evidence that environmental toxins may play a role. Some research suggests that autism reflects an "extreme male brain," because people with the condition often have an obsession with details and systemizing but are low on empathizing ability. There is no cure for autism, although some symptoms may ease over the years.

Recent posts on Autism

Your Eyes Are a Window Into the Inner Workings of Your Brain

William Shakespeare is credited with observing, "Eyes are the window to the soul." A new study goes one step farther by showing how your eyes are a window into your brain.

Ping Lian Yeak, Artist

Ping Lian Yeak makes the leap from "autistic artist" to "artist" with his exhibition at a prominent New York gallery.

The Incredible Healing Modality You've Never Heard Of

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on July 26, 2016 in Feeling It
Foot zoning looks a lot like acupressure but is not at all the same. Foot zoning, practitioners claim, brings a person back into balance.
James Coplan, MD

Autism: Epidemic or Explosion? (And Why It Matters)

Are we truly living in the age of autism? Making sense of the numbers.

Can Dogs Have Autism?

By Nicholas Dodman on July 06, 2016 in Dog Days
If your dog fixates on things and seems withdrawn and antisocial, maybe he has a canine version of autism – or perhaps Fragile X syndrome?

Understanding Behavioral Therapy for Autism

Long-term planning for children with autism requires patience and diligence. Behavioral therapy, as time and labor-intensive as it seems, remains the foundation of skill building.

New Evidence for a Way to Raise Your IQ

By Bryan Roche, Ph.D. on June 20, 2016 in IQ Boot Camp
Psychologists may have found the key to unlocking human intellectual potential. It's all about understanding "relational concepts" and the good news is these are easily learned.

Children, Dogs and the Power of Unconditional Love

For these kids, the human/dog bond really does lead to hope and healing.
By Rennett Stowe from USA (Tapping a Pencil  Uploaded by Atmoz) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Everyday Executive Functioning Challenges

By Jessica Garrett Mills PhD on June 14, 2016 in On Track
Are you reading blogs when you ought to be working? It could be an executive functioning problem.

A Fresh Take on Asperger's

Whether Asperger's is a disorder is a matter of context. Disorder is relational and situational, not absolute and irrevocable, as terminology and everyday assumption suggest.
Wikimedia commons

Separating Fact From Fiction in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Especially where autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is concerned.

Autism and Neuroscience: A Public Health Perspective

By Claudia M Gold M.D. on May 31, 2016 in Child in Mind
Children with autism have signals that are difficult to read, leading to patterns of miscommunication. Listening carefully to all infants and parents offers the path to prevention.

Consciousness and Neurodiversity

The shift in conceptualizing cognitive functions as a range of diverse abilities—or neurodiversity—may be understood by examining the consciousness-attention dissociation.

Now You See It: Diametric Differences Revealed in the Brain

The first study to image brain activity in game playing according to participants’ autistic as opposed to psychotic tendencies reveals patterns consistent with the diametric model.

Want to Up Your Game? Visual Guidance Optimizes Motor Skills

A new visually guided coaching method improves both gaze patterns and the acquisition of complex motor skills.
Chantal Sicile-Kira

Preparing Teens With Autism for Work: Self Employment

Looking at self-employment as an option sometimes leads to an actual job. The process of discovering a person’s strengths and weaknesses can lead to traditional employment.

5 Reasons the Cerebellum Is Key to Thriving in a Digital Age

For human beings to thrive in a digital age, the cerebellum must not be allowed to atrophy by sitting all day, limiting face-to-face contact, or excessive screen time.

Do Vitamins Cause Autism?

By Mark Borigini M.D. on May 13, 2016 in Overcoming Pain
Most striking were the 21 mothers who had “excess” levels of both vitamins. In this group, 10 had children who were diagnosed with autism. In other words, almost one-half.

How to Fight Back

By Amy S.F. Lutz on May 02, 2016 in Inspectrum
Agreeing that adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities should have the same rights as the non-disabled is not enough. Here's what we can do to make it happen.

Autistic vs. Psychotic Spectrums: Overlapping or Opposite?

The first study to consider both cognitive modes proposed by the diametric model finds evidence of overlap and diametric opposition of autistic as opposed to psychotic traits.

Top 5 Ways Biofeedback Can Change Your Life

By Adi Jaffe Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 in All About Addiction
Are you turning to pills to make your life better? Biofeedback and neurofeedback could be the answer you're looking for.

My Sister’s Happy Birthday

By Eileen Garvin on April 26, 2016 in Sister on the Edge of Autism
I sent Margaret a spa gift basket for her birthday. But even as I entered my credit card number and hit submit, I was full of doubt. Will she even know it came from me? I doubt it.

It's Autism Awareness Month

Autism is even more complex than most people realize. Here's what more than 20 members of the autism community wish were better understood about autism.

Sometimes Evolutionary Mismatch is a Good Thing

Often, modern environments mismatch ancestral environments to our detriment. But sometimes, unnatural technologies can be beneficial. Here’s an example - that relates to autism.

Is Love Simply a Puff of Oxytocin?

Bonding is an essential part of social, sexual and family life. How much is this due to one simple chemical in the brain?
Courtesy Larry Garvin

The Kids Are Alright

By Eileen Garvin on April 14, 2016 in Sister on the Edge of Autism
I thought Margaret was angry, but I know now that she was anxious and afraid. And as an adult, I regret that I didn’t see the difference. It might have helped us both.

Babies' Brains May Process Social Thinking Via Motor Systems

A new study published today reports (for the first time) that motor systems in the brain may drive infants' earliest social learning, thinking, and behavior.

How to Win a Turing Tournament

Both a computer's mentalistic deficits and mechanistic over-compensations could be masked in a Turing test by having it masquerade as a savant like the late Kim Peek.

Autism, Early Intervention, and the Desire to Play God

Emerging technology can help brains change themselves, without chemicals. The prospect is scary to many, and controversial.