Deveopmental Issues: The Amygdala, Babies, and Autism

Following up on yesterday's post is an interesting new finding from the University of North Carolina, where researchers are confirming more evidence for an actual structural brain difference in babies with Autism. Please excuse the "science geek" in me, but this stuff is really important for us to understand. It will help us to better diagnose and help even very young children with Autism-related difficulties, and it will help us to screen out those who SEEM to have Autism, but don't (see yesterday's post).

For my non-science-geek, non-shrink parent readers, this is the bottom line here: It's important to really be watching the quality of your baby's social development. Your baby's glances, smiles, gestures and babbles in his first year of life tell you a TON about whether he's developing normally. The article highlights the importance of "Joint Attention", which is what your baby does to attract and sustain your attention, in order to share something interesting with you. If he likes doggies, when he sees one, he'll try to get your attention so that YOU can see the doggie -- and get excited by it -- too. He'll want to share his interests with you, even if he doesn't yet have the words to tell you about them. By the end of his first year, you should see him doing this more and more. Children with Autism have trouble with this -- and now we have more information as to why.

If you're interested in more, check out the summary article here.

And as always, post a comment with your questions or thoughts, if you'd like.

Aloha,

Dr. Heather The BabyShrink