Advertisement

Therapy changes autistic children's brains

By

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they discovered positive changes in brain activity in children with autism who received a particular type of behavioral therapy.

Avery C. Voos, first-year graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Koegel Autism Center, and colleagues said the study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the impact of Pivotal Response Treatment. The therapy was pioneered at the UCSB by Lynn Koegel, clinical director of the Koegel Autism Center -- on both lower- and higher-functioning children with autism.

Advertisement

Comparing pre- and post-therapy data from the fMRI scans of 5-year-old subjects, the researchers saw marked -- and remarkable -- changes in how the children were processing the stimuli.

"After four months of treatment, they're starting to use brain regions that typically developing kids are using to process social stimuli," Voos said in a statement.

RELATED Study: Some with autism 'outgrow it'

The therapy -- 8 to 10 hours each week for four months -- was bookended by fMRIs looking at predetermined regions of the brain.

"For instance, say a child wants to draw, and asks for a red crayon while she has her back to me. I say, 'I can't understand what you're asking if you're not looking at me.' Once she orients toward me, we provide a contingent response -- in this case, giving her the red crayon -- and ideally she begins to understand, 'Hey, me looking at you and asking for what I want gets me what I want," Voos said. "Ultimately, the social interaction becomes the reward on its own, which is the ultimate goal."

Advertisement

The findings were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

RELATED Autism link to gene mutation 'hotspots'

RELATED Air pollution may be linked to autism risk

RELATED $100 million for U.S. autism research

RELATED Focusing kids with autism improves speech

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement