When can you see autism in the brain?

This week the Infant Brain Imaging Study, or IBIS, published it’s 2nd study on the emergence of changes in the brains of individuals with autism.  While red flags for autism can be seen early, a diagnosis of autism is not typically made until after 24 months of age. Using a baby sibling research design, scientists showed increases in the size of certain areas of the brain between 6-12 months.  This opens up opportunities for even earlier diagnosis of ASD in the future.   Also, a group at Stanford shows the emergence and disappearance of co-morbid symptoms in autism, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and ADHD, which are dependent on sex and age.  Together, these studies show that autism begins very very early and symptoms and behavioral and biological features change over time.

How early do females with autism show differences?

Using high risk baby siblings research design, scientists at Yale University showed that as babies, girls with autism show an unusual pattern of social attention for their age, spending most of their time looking at faces.  This is in stark contrast to findings in boys.  Together with other data, the authors conclude that this early social behavior may mitigate, or protect against, the symptoms of ASD later on in life.

In the second half of the podcast, the new supplement to the journal Pediatrics is summarized, which includes important new guidelines and recommendations that affect people with autism.  As promised, here is the link so you can see for yourself.