Articles on Autism

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We’ll need computers to unravel this mystery. Ben Birchall/PA

Unpicking the autism puzzle by linking empathy to reward

Empathy is at the heart of human social life. It allows us to respond appropriately to others’ emotions and mental states. A perceived lack of empathy is also one of the symptoms that defines autism. Understanding…
Mothers with genetic mutations not harmful to females may be passing them onto their sons. Vincent van der Pas/Flickr (resized)

Mothers’ genes may be why autism is more common in boys

Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, because girls need more extreme genetic…
Julie with Jack in a film about Applied Behaviour Analysis. BBC/Dartmouth Films/Two Step Films/Fran Robertson

Behavioural method is not an attempt to ‘cure’ autism

Treetops School in Essex is a state school that uses ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) to educate children with autism. ABA has generated controversy and BBC4’s film, Autism: Challenging Behaviour, follows…
Early identification and behavioural intervention is the best way to minimise the effects of autism. Image from

Mums and dads, don’t ignore the early signs of autism

When a newborn joins a family we become beguiled by the perfection of this wondrous new being. Any hint of difference is easily overlooked during the early years. We now understand that the onset of symptoms…
Psychiatric diagnosis relies on identifying a patient’s signs and symptoms rather than clinical tests. PA/Ben Birchall

Explainer: what is the DSM?

Traditional psychiatry uses the approaches of medicine to try to understand mental health problems and guide treatment. This means relying on diagnosis – identifying what are believed to be mental illnesses…
When humans are challenged, even as very young babies, we really can rise above and excel. Drew Bennett

Deprivation, autism and disability shine a light on development

What do newborn babies, children who have been severely deprived of human contact, people with autism, and blind mothers have in common? On the surface, not much. But they provide a common theme for understanding…
New research could help reclassify common psychiatric disorders that are related to the brain. AAP

Large genetic study paves way for new treatment of mental illness

Scientists have linked common genetic markers with major psychiatric disorders including autism and schizophrenia, in the…
Using objects like Lego for the purpose for which they were designed was a key clue, the study found.

Study reveals autism treatment clues

Young autistic children who can spontaneously imitate adults and use objects in a functional way may be more likely to respond…
Exposure to traffic-related air particles during pregnancy and the first year of life was linked with a higher risk of autism, the study found.

Study links traffic pollution and autism

Exposure to traffic pollution while in the womb and the first year of life may be associated with a higher risk of autism…
Overall, there will be fewer symptoms and disorders listed in the new psychiatry manual. Axel Buhrmann

Redefining autism in the DSM-5

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. For autistic people and their…
Men play an equal, if not larger, role in passing on genetic mutations to their children. Bettina Neuefeind

Men’s ‘biological clock’ linked to schizophrenia and autism

We all know about the reproductive “biological clock” in women reminding them of the finite time in which they can have children. Now researchers have found evidence that men also have a reproductive “best…

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