Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recent finding about autistic brains

I'm not linking to the science story on which this post is based -- because you guys never read the science links I litter this web site with. C'mon, admit it: you don't. So here it is in understandable English.

The reason why autistic kids don't respond verbally to, for instance, questions from family members is that their brains are wired differently. We want to respond; they don't. This is because the area of the brain that would respond to a spoken question isn't hooked into the reward center of the brain.

We literally want to respond to people. It's what our brains do. And we do this because there are rewards built in. It gives us pleasure to respond appropriately to a question, to engage in conversation, to join in social activities. That's because our response centers are hooked into the brain's reward center.

For instance, responding appropriately to a police officer's questions about an accident makes us feel that we're good citizens. That's a reward. Autistic people don't have that connection so there is no reward.

I think this can help us to grasp why we see no affect in these children (and adults) when we speak to them. And that's why I'm passing this information along: to help everyone understand the situation and not just walk away and say, "What's wrong with that kid?"

PS: Here's the LA Times version of this story. It's not complex.