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New Approach To Detect Autism Earlier

Date:
January 18, 2008
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
A new way of understanding autistic disorders, incorporating both psychological and biological factors, could lead to the conditions being picked up earlier, researchers have found. The work relates to autistic and Asperger's disorders, which are characterized by ritualistic behaviors -- such as counting, tapping, flicking, or repeatedly restating information -- and compulsive behaviors including as a rigid adherence to routine and a marked resistance to change.

A new way of understanding autistic disorders, incorporating both psychological and biological factors, could lead to the conditions being picked up earlier, research from UNSW has found.

A review of research, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, integrates psychological with biological theories of autism.

The work relates to autistic and Asperger’s disorders, which are characterised by ritualistic behaviours – such as counting, tapping, flicking, or repeatedly restating information – and compulsive behaviours including as a rigid adherence to routine and a marked resistance to change.

“Until now we have relied mostly on psychological approaches in making a diagnosis, but this needs to be incorporated with the biological approach – utilising information from brain mapping technology,” says the paper’s author, Professor Florence Levy, from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry.

“This may help medical professionals detect conditions such as Asperger’s Disorder at an earlier stage.

“This won’t prevent it from developing, but it will help with remediation. It will also help to provide explanations to parents, who may have been worried about their child’s behaviour.”

The review found that psychological theories such as ‘Theory of Mind’ alone have difficulty accounting for the rigid and repetitive behaviours found in autistic disorders.

Studies of the brain, however, can offer an explanation.

“When the developing brain encounters constrained connectivity, it evolves an abnormal organisation, the features of which may be best explained by a developmental failure of neural connectivity, where high local connectivity develops in tandem with low long-range connectivity, resulting in constricted repetitive behaviours,” she writes.

The research does not identify what causes the constrained connectivity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "New Approach To Detect Autism Earlier." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117101406.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2008, January 18). New Approach To Detect Autism Earlier. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117101406.htm
University of New South Wales. "New Approach To Detect Autism Earlier." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080117101406.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

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