“Autism is a disorder resulting from brain impairment, characterized by a marked and comprehensive lack of social interaction and communication, as well as limited interests and repetitive activities. All of these signs begin to appear before the age of three. Similar conditions with milder signs and symptoms are attributed to autism spectrum disorders.
In recent decades, the frequency of diagnosis of autism has been rising at a catastrophic rate, and experts are still unable to say for sure why. Among the reasons they consider genetic factors, environmental pollution, nutrition, vaccines.
What happens with autism inside the brain? What processes are disturbed and can these disorders be restored?
A team of scientists from the University of San Diego’s Brain Development Visualization Laboratory (USA) has received new data on how autism affects the brain. Scientists have found that children with autism have impaired connections between the thalamus (the structure of the brain necessary for sensory and motor functions) and the cerebral cortex.
This is the first study to combine functional and anatomical magnetic resonance imaging techniques with diffusion tensor imaging to analyze the connections between the cerebral cortex and thalamus.
The study was led by Professor of Psychology Dr. Ralph-Axel Müller and Dr. Artie Neir, a doctoral student in clinical psychology. Together they analyzed the brain of more than 50 children with and without autism.
The thalamus is a very important brain structure, responsible for many functions, including vision, hearing, movement control and attention. Children with autism have impairments in the conductive pathways between the thalamus and the cerebral cortex, which means that these parts of the brain do not communicate well with each other.
“Message impairments suggest that autism is not only a disorder of social ability and communication, but also of the sensory and motor system.
Disorders in the development of both the structure and function of the thalamus can also play a role in the emergence of social and communicative disorders, which are considered the main and most important symptoms of autism.
A neuroradiologist, a professor of radiology at the University of Utah, Geoffrey S. Anderson, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify areas in which the left and right cerebral hemispheres of people with autism misinteracted with each other.
These areas are hot spots that are associated with motor skills, attention, facial recognition, and social behavior – all of which are impaired in people with autism. MRI of people without autism spectrum disorders has not revealed any such interaction deficits.
A growing number of studies confirm the anomalies in the connections of different brain regions in autism. A team of researchers analyzed electrical impulses between different parts of the brain, resulting in scientists being able to determine the characteristics of these connections in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Compared to children without autism, children with ASD had an excessive amount of brain activity within certain parts of the brain, with fewer connections between remote areas of the brain.
The study used electroencephalography to analyze brain activity. The results were published in the scientific journal “BMC Medicine”. These findings confirm the validity of the findings of previous studies, which showed similar features of connections in the brain of people with autism.
“This research helps us to better understand both the challenges and strengths of people with autism,” says Dr Gerry Dawson, Head of Science at Autism Speaks.
“Complex behaviours, including social interaction, require coordination between different parts of the brain. If the functional connections between the different departments are reduced, this explains why people with autism experience difficulties with these behaviours.
On the other hand, many people with autism are more successful in tasks that require more concentration, for example, they may have good memories, art or music skills, depending on the brain areas that are more limited in space.
We conclude that recent research suggests that people with autism have broken some of the connections between certain parts of the brain.
Recent research has focused on whether existing treatments can change the way people with autism think about their brains. If we look at the treatment of autism, we can divide it into three groups. The first group is developmental activities, communication with adults and experienced psychologists.
The second is medication therapy with psychotropic, anticonvulsant drugs. And the third group is alternative methods, such as pet therapy (treatment with animals), hypnosis, musical vibration therapy, massage, reflexotherapy, including point foot massage.
If we consider each of the methods of treatment in more detail, the greatest concern is the drugs, especially psychotropic drugs. They can have an unexpected impact on the body of a young child, cause unpredictable reactions and consequences.
You can see for yourself, just read the instructions for at least one of these drugs. Pay attention to the list of contraindications and side effects – these are the most extensive sections.
Accordingly, you are faced with the task of reducing or completely eliminating the need for medicines in your child. To do this, pay more attention to the activities of the child with psychologists, developing games.
In addition to this, it is worth turning to alternative medicine, in particular – music therapy and vibrating massage. Their healing properties have been known for many centuries. In China, Nepal, Tibet, India, vibrating massage is used as one of the methods of treatment and prevention of many diseases.
Sound massage or sound therapy is almost the only method of treatment, which, in addition to high efficiency, is characterized by absolute safety. It has almost no contraindications and side effects. In addition to a targeted effect on the body, massage has a tonic effect, can improve sleep, stabilize the emotional state of the person, strengthen the immune system, increase the body’s resistance.