Researchers says they're getting closer to understanding autism by looking side the brain. Scientists at the University of Washington are using special glasses to measure a toddler’s eye contact. “It records what I’m seeing, so I can see whether a child is looking at my eyes or my mouth,” said Wendy Stone, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, UW Medicine.
Scientists are also looking at brain chemistry using MRI. “Kids with autism have about 10 percent bigger brains than other kids,” Stephen R. Dager, MD, Professor of Radiology, UW Medicine said.
Doctors found between ages 3 and 10, children with autism and those with developmental delays had significantly less of an important brain chemical. However, by age 10, the autism group had normal levels, but the kids with delays were still low. Scientists believe this study shows development isn’t fixed in autism.
“We also found that, in many ways, children bloomed and grew and became really interesting and wonderful people,” said Annette Estes, PhD, Director, UW Autism Center, Susan & Richard Fade Endowed Chair, Research Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington.
Researchers are now studying three month old babies who have siblings with autism. They want to determine if very early alterations in brain cell signaling may precede early clinical symptoms of autism.