Autism in teens has become a growing concern for many parents. These days, it seems like more and more children struggle with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger’s, and other related conditions.
But side from poor access to viable treatment options, there are also several issues regarding the diagnostic process. Fortunately, recent advances in brain imagery may allow experts to pinpoint the markers of autism, which in turn can facilitate accurate evaluations.
Challenges in diagnosing autism in teens
When it comes to autism spectrum disorders, most children don’t get an accurate diagnostic until age 5 or 6. That means children lose precious years during which – with the help of trained clinicians – they could acquire valuable social and cognitive skills.
In fact, the diagnostic process is still very much dependent upon the behavioral approach. In other words, clinicians rely on behavioral markers that point towards ASD.
This has led some experts to use brain imaging techniques in hopes of minimizing the delay in diagnosis.
Autism in teens: Insights from brain studies
Thanks to the advances in medical science, researchers are now able to map the brain areas that may play a role in ASD and other related conditions.
In a recent post by PsychCentral, Dr. Rick Nauert details the findings of a recent study conducted by two Ph.D.’s – Rajesh Kana and Omar Maximo.
The two researchers began by scanning the brains of 168 typically developed individuals and 138 individuals who were on the spectrum. More specifically, they looked at functional connectivity, or how different brain areas communicate with each other.
What they discovered is that individuals with ASD present some significant differences in the unimodal and supramodal areas, compared to typical individuals.
While the unimodal areas are responsible for basic sensory processing, the supramodal areas oversee complex cognitive processes.
Long story short, in the case of people with ASD, unimodal and supramodal connections are somewhat ‘out of tune.’ This may be the reason why they’re having trouble acquiring social and cognitive skills.
By understanding the brain changes responsible for autism in teens, experts can diagnose this condition earlier and develop better intervention strategies.
To learn more about autism in teens, click here.