Reference: Brain Waves Shed Light on Autism and Language
Globe and Mail, December 1st, 2008
Summary: This article discusses a recent study on autism and language perception. 64 children aged 6 – 15 listened to a series of beeps under a helmet that recorded the brain’s response to the sounds. “The brain wave study used noninvasive technology called magnetoencephalography (MEG) for short. It measures magnetic fields generated by electrical currents in brain nerve cells, and records brain activity in real time.” Results showed that children with autism took one-50th second longer to respond to each sound versus non-autistic children. Timothy Roberts, the study’s lead author says that ‘“[w]e tend to speak at four syllables per second’ [and if the] autistic brain ‘is slow in processing a change in a syllable ... it could easily get to the point of being overloaded.’” Researchers hope this information can be used to help diagnose children as early as age one, one year earlier then is normal. Although there is no treatment for autism, knowing whether a child has autism a year earlier can help parents understand their children better, and also allow parents to start their children in speech therapy earlier.
Review: This is an excellent article! It is quite fascinating and quite relevant to today’s society. I really liked how the author of this article asked other researchers and doctors not working on this particular study what they thought of the research and the results. It is useful to ask another person’s input as you can see where this research may go in the future. I also enjoyed the story about a young boy who participated in the study. It added a nice personal touch knowing this young boys journey.
Reflection: I found this article quite interesting as I have worked with autistic children in the past and will continue to do so in the future. The most exciting quote I found in this article is as follows…“Finding biomarkers – such as the brain waves – that could enable earlier diagnosis and treatment is the “holy grail” for autism scientists, Dr. McPartland said.” This is exciting news! As of right now there is no treatment for autism. One can merely participate in therapy programs and other activities/resources available. This research could help get the ball rolling in terms of cures and preventative therapy programs for children. It’s great that they are able to diagnose children one year earlier than previous years. That extra year could be crucial for helping children with autism, researching and learning more about how autism develops and what can be done to help people live more comfortably with it.