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Blog Worth Repeating: Autism – A Year in Review

[Source: Huffington Post]

In the United States, we’ve seen a fifteen-fold increase in autism diagnoses over the past two decades. In fact, it’s currently estimated that almost 1% of US children have an autism-spectrum disorder (ASD), while the rates in US adults are largely unknown. Autism is described in the DSM-IV, listed as a disorder usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence. Autism is further categorized as a pervasive developmental disorder, falling within the autistism spectrum, along with Asperger’s and PDD-NOS.
Autism is characterized by impaired social development, limited communication skills, and repetitive movements. Autistic individuals may have dysfunctional mirror neuron systems, which are involved in imitation learning and empathy. The mirror neuron system is thought of as the neural basis for human social cognition, and anatomical studies show a significant reduction in cortical mass of brain areas directly populated by mirror neurons in individuals with autism.
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