Overlooking Girls with Autism



We know that for every four boys diagnosed with autism, there is only one girl diagnosed. And while that ratio may imply that autism is more prevalent in boys than girls, it doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the case.

According to a new study, there are significant brain structure and behavior deviations between boys and girls touched by autism. Girls with autism often display symptoms differently—specifically, girls tend to show less repetitive behaviors, such as hand-flapping, a narrow scope of focus, or even the need for rigid routines are not as prominent.

What this means is that girls with autism could be getting overlooked, or it may make it harder for them to get the right kind of therapy. This type of study could prove extremely helpful in understanding how autism differs between the sexes, leading to better diagnostic criteria and treatment.

Check out more on this study.

Lynsey, Community Manager


Two-Minute MRI Diagnosis?

Determining whether a child has autism or not has been, up to this point, primarily based on factors outlined in the DSM. It’s based on meeting certain criteria and there’s no medical test, such as a blood test, that can be taken to provide a diagnosis. But with the evolution of technology and research, we’re learning of more and more ways medical diagnostic tools may one day play a large role in the detection, and ultimately diagnosis, of autism.

One such potential tool, according to recent research published in Clinical Psychological Science, is a brain-imaging technique, similar to a MRI, that could detect autism in only two minutes. The scanning process can show the brain’s response to thoughts of ‘self-perspective’ – such as recognizing ‘your turn.’ It showed that there was a subdued response in the brain among those with autism – and the more subdued the response, the more severe the autism symptoms.

While it wouldn’t be able to take the place of a full evaluation, and it will certainly require much more research, this may be a way to aide in the clinical diagnosis in the future, offering us a little more insight into how our brains are processing information.

You can check out more on this research here.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Inflammation in Brain Linked to Autism

Maybe a little closer to understanding a bit more about autism…a new study published in Nature Communications is showing that the brains of people with autism share a common pattern of inflammation related to an overactive immune response.

As discussed in this article, researchers from Johns Hopkins and University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed the data from autopsied brains of 72 people – 32 of whom had autism – and of those that had autism, they found genes for inflammation permanently activated in certain cells. This was the largest ever study of gene expression in autism.

The inflammation is not likely a root cause of autism, but possibly a consequence of a gene mutation. In order to better understand the inflammation’s effects, researchers will need to determine whether treating it will make an impact on symptoms.

As one of the researchers involved in the study points out, the current findings highlights how much we don’t know about the way our immune systems affect brain activity.


Lynsey, Community Manager 

Kids with Autism May Have Overload of Brain Connections (Study)

brain synapsesA new study, which is getting a lot of attention, is showing that children with autism may have an oversupply of synapses – which are the connections that allow neurons to send a receive signals –in their brains. With this excess amount of synapses, different brain areas can be affected and overloaded with stimuli. And having such an overload could account for symptoms like extreme sensitivity to noise or social challenges.

This information could help researchers and doctors identify a key cause of autism symptoms – which is good news for a potential treatment. But this would be long down the road – researchers were able to create a similar overloading of synapses among mice and used a drug called rapamycin, which worked well to improve, if not eliminate symptoms, however this drug comes with heavy side effects. But this is an exciting discovery and one that will hopefully be further explored.

Check out this NY Times article for a good breakdown on the study.

Lynsey, Community Manager