Archive for April 2015

Monthly Archive

Autism Awareness Month Stories- Emma’s Story

In honor of Autism Awareness Month we invited our readers to share their stories with us. We are sharing the stories throughout the month of April. Today’s story is from Emma.

My son just turned five. When he was born he was a pretty typical baby, though some things were obviously slow to develop – walking, talking, even teeth coming in, all seemed to lag. The baby books, the sleep books, the parenting books that I so firmly believed in philosophically seemed to have little impact on this headstrong little guy. I wondered why parenting felt so hard, as I rocked my infant in my sling. Was it just extended postpartum depression? Was it that I truly wasn’t cut out for motherhood? Why did I feel so bitter? It was different, more difficult, and since I’m a pretty strong person I knew I wasn’t just wimping out. 

By the time he was two we started to talk more explicitly about his delays, and we were comfortable with him being different. I did some research and started to feel scared about autism. At the time Read full post »

Autism and Race

Based on Kanner’s observations of the children he worked with, autism was once thought to be a disorder that disproportionately affected families of higher socioeconomic status (Kanner, 1943). He noted that the parents of the children he described in his seminal work were highly educated, upper middle class, and of European-American descent. Subsequent studies failed to corroborate Kanner’s belief. The likely reason for Kanner’s finding was a result of bias caused by a greater access to diagnostic and treatment options for families with financial means.

In the 70 years since Kanner’s report we now know that autism clearly affects children from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds yet disparity continues to exist in services. Nowhere is this more Read full post »

Biomarkers and Autism

Baby Brain 2When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I study “baby brains”. People are usually startled and a bit tickled by this phrasing, and I often have to clarify that I mean the in vivo brains of healthy and wiggly infants. This phrase is mostly accurate – I am a developmental cognitive neuroscientist who uses cool machines to measure brain and behavioral responses of newborns and older infants. But for me, “baby brains” are a jumping off point for my personal and scientific curiosity about how people learn about the world. Our bodies and brains are constantly changing and evolving as we grow from infancy into toddlerhood, childhood, those rough adolescent years, and (hopefully gracefully) into adulthood. Some individuals do not grow at the same pace as their peers, and we often identify these children and adults with developmental disorders, such as autism. Read full post »