Researchers one step closer to potential autism test
December 2nd, 2010
12:00 AM ET

Researchers one step closer to potential autism test

Scientists are finding more pieces of the autism puzzle of with the help of MRI scans of brain circuitry, according to a study published Thursday online in the journal Autism Research.

By scanning the brain for 10 minutes using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers were able to measure six physical differences of microscopic fibers in the brains of 30 males with confirmed high-functioning autism and 30 males without autism.

The images of the brains helped researchers correctly identify those with autism with 94 percent accuracy, says Nicholas Lange, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and one of the study authors.

"No one has measured what we measured," says Lange of the MRI test he and Dr. Janet Lainhart from the University of Utah developed.

While previous studies using different types of scans have been able to identify people with autism, Lange says, "no one has looked at it [the brain] the way we have and no one has gotten these type of results."

Lange is quick to caution that this type of test is not yet ready for prime time. "We do not want to give anyone false hopes that this is ready for the clinic yet. This method, this test, needs to be tried [and confirmed] with many more subjects outside our laboratory," he says.  Plus, the research needs to be expanded to many more study participants and tried on younger people with autism and those who are not as high-functioning as the subjects in this first trial.

Using the MRI, the study authors measured how the water in the brain flows along the axons or nerve fibers in the parts of the brain that control language, social and emotional functioning.  The scans revealed that the wiring of the brains of those with autism was disorganized compared with the brains of a typical person without autism. This is how they could determine which brains scans belonged those study participants with autism.

The study included only males between the ages of 7 and 28 because they were part of a bigger research project at the University of Utah, which is following males with autism for a longer period. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 110 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder and boys are far more likely to have this neurological disorder that affects language and social behavior – that number is about 1 in 70.  However future studies will include girls too.

Currently there's no biologic test for autism, so pediatricians look to see if a child is meeting certain developmental milestones as well as signs and symptoms of autism. (The advocacy group Autism Speaks has posted videos to help parents see the signs of autism)

The earlier a child has been identified as having autism, the earlier behavioral therapies can be applied to lessen the impact of the disorder later in life.  Lange believes this brain scans can be done on younger children, as long as they can go to sleep in the scanner – on their own, without sedation (because you can't move during the test).

Carissa Cascio, an assistant professor of psychiatry from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who specializes in autism and neuro-imaging, believes these study results are important. But she cautions that using this method as a true diagnostic tool to detect autism in a child is "a long way off." "What this paper seems to be doing is taking the first steps towards parlaying what we are able to glean from brain imaging into potential diagnostic tools."

Zachary Warren, who is the director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), says since there are many types of autism, "it becomes very challenging to capture all these differences with one test." Still he believes this is new study can help pinpoint the earliest markers of concern in developing brains.

soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. Nicole

    The interesting part will be if it can distinguish between autistic people and their relatives as well as autistic people and others with similar disabilities. If they can't tell the difference, for instance, between high functioning autism and severe ADHD or severe OCD (both of which have a lot of crossover symptom and treatment wise with HFA) it's not clinically sensitive enough for prime time.

    December 2, 2010 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JT

      That's specificity, not sensitivity.

      December 2, 2010 at 03:06 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      DIsagree – the interesting thing will be to see if they can determine those with Autism period. All the other issues are not demonstrably related and in that context irrelevant to the study of Autism. Your correlation is not established.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
    • painntrain

      Look, there's a whole lot of pseudo-intellectualism going on in this post and in the replies. Y'all'll never be as smart as me, deal with it.

      December 2, 2010 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
    • AG

      I have heard many negative things about those with autism as to having no potential future whatsoever. Is it true that those with autism tend to struggle more in their adult lives than normal people, and that it is extremely hard for them to find jobs or get higher education and the like?

      December 2, 2010 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • Africanviolet

      Though the below post is intellectually stimulating I must say that people who have autism are people first – not a disorder and shouldn't be labeled that way when talking about them as collective persons.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • KDW

      @ AG it all depends on the severity of autism and the level mental disability. If a child has severe autism and is severely mentally disabled they will never be able to live on their own and will more than likely end up living in some sort of assisted living facility. If the person has high functioning autism and normal to above normal intelligence they will more than likely be able to live a fairly normal productive life.
      @ Nicole you do raise a good point. Many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that I have worked with have family members that are, for lack of a better term, a little off. They often demonstrate mild language issues, are more rigid about routines, and will report that they engaged in some of the ritual behaviors that their children are experiencing. Children with ASD also demonstrate attentional and OCD tendencies. It probably would be a good idea to look into how the brains of children with ASD differ from these two disorders. I would imagine the language areas of the brain would not be effected in children with ADHD and OCD, but it would be interesting to see.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      This testing – and treatments arising from it – need to be extended to older adults with autism as well! ALL people on the autism spectrum can and will benefit from this. The brain is a wonderfully malleable thing, and even adult autistics and Aspies can improve when they are allowed to have access to all available diagnostics and therapies.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      One other note: Autism and Asperger's Syndrome are NOT the result of a brain damaged by mercury. Autism is genetic and inherited. It is the way a person is born. (I am the sister and daughter of people with AS, and I have NLD myself.)

      December 2, 2010 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • Bek

      @AG: As a person with autism, raising a son with autism, the entire life experience tends to be different compared to our non-autistic ("neurotypical") counterparts. How different depends on a great many things – lots of people talk about high functioning autism which makes that particular population sound like they have an easy time, but in reality many of them just have the ability or have been taught (like I was) to "blend" and not "look autistic" when in actuality we still struggle with many of the same issues with communication and sensory sensitivities or insensitivities... Would I rather be a person without autism raising a child without autism? Theoretically, yes. I don't think anybody wants their child to have extra challenges in their life. A smooth, event free road into adulthood would be a dream. The reality? we don't get to choose, and I know that the very things that make living with autism in a mostly non-autistic world overwhelming and sometimes seemingly insurmountable balance (and in our home, are eclipsed by) the benefits of having autism. My view on the world is much different from my non-autistic friends and relatives. I know that things are difficult for my son, and have been since he started school,but autism gives him a different angle on things that lets him learn and think and problem solve differently from his non-autistic peers. That which makes him seem different now, in the long run is a benefit to him, and I believe to the world.

      I won't say that autism is always this super positive, sunshiny thing. It doesn't exist in a bubble. I would say that my experiences growing up, and what my son is going through now, are parallel to non-autistic peers, but still different that they require different resources, and often costlier ones. The support for kids and families with autism is minimal at best and often unaffordable. Even support within extended families is strained, I find, as the "soulless, mute shell of a person" picture of autism is promoted by many seemingly benevolent organizations, the flip side of the coin is that autism is a wide spectrum, with many micro-stops along the way. Because of the promotion of such images, many parents find themselves socially isolated and relationships destroyed because other lay people do not believe the diagnosis and challenge it. Should we look deeper when a diagnosis is given? Of course. But education of all people, with the truth about autism, should be a primary goal of these organizations. I realize that the "stolen soul" child image nets more donations, but at the same time it doesn't improve conditions for living and functioning as a person with autism in a mostly non-autistic world. It doesn't improve diagnosis time frames or recognition of the symptoms. This, I believe, is a tragedy.

      I believe when the world at large stops seeing it as a disease and starts seeing it as a natural difference (like eye color, for example) then children and adults with autism, and their families, will receive the life long support and understanding that they need to succeed.

      (by the way: I went to college and I have a BA... I found understanding the nuances of corporate politics very challenging and I found joy and success in creating my own work that allows me to use my strengths, helps to improve some of my weaker skills, and the parts that cannot be changed (sensory issues) are accommodated with my needs in mind. I am considered high functioning, but I will tell you that the challenges are endless and it takes so much to appear neurotypical. For me it means that my surroundings, and my interaction with people are very calculated and predictable. Is that neurotypical/"normal"? Not at all. But it is what works for me. I do realize, and I want to make clear, that autism is a wide spectrum of disorders and abilities and disability. There is no set path, no set outcome. If you have met one person with autism, you have met just one person with autism. We are all different. I know kids, from occupational therapy, that appear anything but "high functioning" and before I really understood autism (I was diagnosed late, despite extremely obvious signs and some nasty names that people gave me instead of taking the time to find out "why?") I thought they were not going to ever be able to communicate or have meaning... That couldn't be the farthest from the truth. The communication is just different. The "meaning" is different. The rest of the world just needs to listen with all of their senses for a change.)

      December 2, 2010 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
    • Quekavayo

      I think that with the new technology this is great they have also found a cure for diabetes type II or at least its in the process.


      December 2, 2010 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
    • Jodi

      @Bec, while I appreciate your unique perspective on this, I would like to counter that autism is not like having a different eye color. Maybe for a child with milder autism, but my son has moderate to severe autism and is testing with an extremely low IQ. He will be lucky if he lives independently from us, and even luckier if he graduates mainstreamed. While many people are higher functioning and able to function at some level in society, and their functioning level of autism could be considered a trait, there is still a subset of people with autism who are more profoundly affected. Just as autism is not a disease, it's also not a personality trait, or a mental illness. Yes, people with autism learn differently, and different is different, it's not bad.

      December 2, 2010 at 18:52 | Report abuse |
    • Bek

      @Jodi: I appreciate your unique perspective as well. The idea of autism being a difference in the way that eye colors vary between people, isn't to say that autism only impacts a person or family's life as much as something like eye color (which is a superficial difference) it is my hope that autism becomes as accepted as variation in eye color. In an ideal world, someone with autism would be accepted as they are-and that includes supports being provided without as much fight and drama and expense that are required to get them now-rather than in current society when we/they are accepted, it is as a tragically flawed human being. You mentioned many things that your son will be "lucky" or you will be "lucky" if he does or meets various goals. As a mother, I do understand your perspective somewhat, and I do understand that there is a wide range, and extremes, as far as the spectrum goes. As a person with autism, raising a child with autism, I don't know that I could face each and every day if the goals in front of me, or my son, was something like "graduating mainstream". I'm not trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and even though our sons seem to be at much different places on the spectrum, I don't know if mine will ever be able to live independently. I cannot think "he will be lucky if..." as that would be applying inappropriate expectations and putting a negative connotation on his current level of functioning and progress. Many people do treat people with any difference as lesser human beings, and that is where the eye color metaphor comes in. Autism, and different levels of functioning (regardless of how low or high functioning they are), would, in an ideal world, be seen as part of a person rather than as a disease or as it is seen now by many people who are not affected by it directly- which is almost as a parasite sucking the life out of innocent children. You are correct in saying that sometimes different is just different. If only the world was so accepting. Hopefully, with those of us who are impacted by autism speaking up, someday the unemployment rates for people with autism won't be so high. Hopefully, some day, the goals won't be getting a person to put on the "normal act" so that they can blend in enough to be in the mainstream class. Hopefully, some day, the goal will be providing the supports that kids and adults need without comparison and without shame and without a battle over every session of every service, so that they can succeed at being and doing their individual, personal best, rather than being a lesser human being or a failure by way of comparing them to the goals set for children and adults without those same challenges. I hope this makes sense.

      December 2, 2010 at 22:47 | Report abuse |
  2. BJ

    Love the use of the words there OP. "Autistic People"

    December 2, 2010 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy

      He should say "people with autism"? OK but most people are still in the habit of using adjective + noun, it's not meant to be offensive...

      December 2, 2010 at 08:46 | Report abuse |
    • K

      I agree! People first language! It's not that hard!

      December 2, 2010 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Lets get really concerned with trival matters that can distract people from the real issues! OK, lets not. It is not reasonable to insist people change gramatical structures of our language to satisfy some PC stratagies that dont benefit anyone. Really – we have much bigger problems, like behavior towards and affecting people on the spectrum. The PC stuff also alienates people we need to drawn in.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Language MATTERS!

      December 2, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
    • DeAguaDulce

      My favorite bit of stupidity from the Language Police: Colored People = bad; People of Color = good. LOL.

      December 2, 2010 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
  3. TR

    In the future, people won't be aloud to force genetically superior autistics to act like non autistics in order to keep them down. Open your minds, don't try to change them.

    December 2, 2010 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robespierre

      "genetically superior" = proper vocabulary = (in this case) "allowed" instead of "aloud."
      a REAL Aspie
      'Course, if I were truly "superior," I would not be so rude as to correct your vocabulary.

      December 2, 2010 at 08:22 | Report abuse |
    • RBA

      aloud [əˈlaʊd]
      adv & adj (postpositive)
      1. in a normal voice; not in a whisper
      2. in a spoken voice; not silently
      3. Archaic in a loud voice

      al·low (-lou)
      v. al·lowed, al·low·ing, al·lows
      1. To let do or happen; permit: We allow smoking only in restricted areas.
      2. To permit the presence of: No pets are allowed inside.
      3. To permit to have: allow oneself a little treat.
      4. To make provision for; assign: The schedule allows time for a coffee break.
      5. To plan for in case of need: allow two inches in the fabric for shrinkage.
      6. To grant as a discount or in exchange: allowed me 20 dollars on my old typewriter.

      December 2, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
    • JnJ

      It's quite a stretch to call people with autism "genetically superior." My brother is severely autistic and lives in a group home; he can barely communicate and spends long afternoons tapping the end of his bed with a coat hanger. Get your facts straight please. Many are affected by autism to the point where they can't function.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:42 | Report abuse |
    • Bek

      I wouldn't say superior. I would say "different". Autism is like a foreign language, a different country with different customs. Just like some folks learn French in high school, not everyone does and there are others who are native speakers. There are those that desire to learn about this culture and learn the language, out of interest and respect.
      I cannot see people without autism as the enemy or inferior.
      I do agree that if many folks with autism could stop wasting energy on the "neurotypical" mask they are trained to wear, their skills would have advanced every technology under the sun many fold. Perhaps the world will change if "different" will someday be seen as a potential for great progress rather than as a weight holding progress back.

      December 2, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.

      "It's quite a stretch to call people with autism 'genetically superior.' "

      Wrong. It's one hell of a stretch that does no autistic person any service.

      I'm autistic myself. Yes, I've done well. I put a lot of effort into my education. I have a harder time – especially in the current economic climate – getting anywhere close to having a job, despite having graduated with Distinctions on a Master's degree. I find a lot of social situations puzzling, and relationships tend to confuse me oft-times. TR's unsupported assertion of 'genetic superiority' is absolutely stupid: there's no evidence of 'superiority' at all... nature doesn't do 'superior'. Evolution by natural selection works by dint of inherited characteristics from mutations in genes placing one organism at an advantage compared to another in any given ecological niche. The one that doesn't do so well can either go where its characteristics work to its advantage or it can die out... but this doesn't mean that it is an inferior being, or that the advantaged one is a superior one. TR needs to learn more about genetics before spouting rubbish like that on the net.

      Bek's assertion of 'different' is much more accurate, and this is what the results of investigations like the MRI studies tell us.

      December 23, 2010 at 06:40 | Report abuse |
  4. jenstate

    At it's core, Autism is a brain disorder. I've been reading what Brain Balance – http://brainbalancecenters.com – has to say about the issue, that the brain can be changed and improved with the right interventions. Their site is certainly worth a read. Wouldn't it be great if one day their interventions could be used in conjunction with the right diagnostic methods?

    December 2, 2010 at 06:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TJO

      Neurofeedback therapy or QEEG has shown positive results for autism and is a proven treatment for other disorders like alcoholism and ADHD. Don't know about brain-balancing, but will read.

      December 2, 2010 at 09:13 | Report abuse |
    • Lazzlo

      Autism is a biological dysfunction, not just a brain disorder. There are many elements of this condition that are overlooked by the research community.

      As a parent of a child with autism, I'm only hoping that studies like this can help provide ways of helping these people deal with their condition(s). My child is intelligent, has a good personality, and sense of humor so all I really want is to maximize his potential and make sure that he has a happy life.

      December 2, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.


      Brain Balance Centers ideas are pseudoscience. Nothing but pseudoscience.

      December 23, 2010 at 06:45 | Report abuse |
  5. KWI

    Ignorance is Bliss, right Joe. You see, a swift kick does NOT work (speaking from experience here). It makes matters worse because you and they do not understand why the swift kick happened.

    December 2, 2010 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Finally

    "No one has measured what we measured," says Lange...
    Well it's about time! And lets try out some other theories too.
    Come on people, lets 'Cure' Autism Now, or at least really, really soon.

    December 2, 2010 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sheling

      I have a 5-year-old son with high-functioning autism, and this research suggests that, in the future, the diagnostic procedure (at least in the UK) will be simplified and the stress placed upon families trying to put the word "disability" into perspective with regards to their families greatly reduced. Though my son was obviously "different" from the moment he was born, it took until he was almost 5 years old to fully diagnose him.

      In the UK, this reticence with regards to diagnosis is due to many, many factors, among which include the medical professionals' reluctance to "label" children as disabled. However, the parents of these children often know very quickly that there is something different about their kids, and the lack of definition, diagnosis and support offered them during the diagnostic period is extremely – and avoidably – stressful.

      The potential that this test has is to save families such as mine the need to endure years of clinical observations, cross-clinical consultations, untrained professionals who dismiss your concerns and other such nonsense which, frankly, ends up being more stressful than the notion of having a disabled child ever could be. Identification, observation and formal diagnosis – assuming this ten-minute test is proved to be effective – can be reduced to a time-scale that runs to weeks, not years.

      Further, while I've gleaned a huge amount of comfort from the majority of posters here, the huge amount of misinformation – and prejudice – regarding autism still dismays me. There is not – and can never be – a "cure" for autism. There are therapies which, if applied early enough, can increase a child's chances to growing into a reasonably capable adult – but "if applied early enough" is the key phrase. Until you have a child with autism, you think about autism in the same heavily-shaded way that everyone else does. And THAT is the greatest obstacle any autistic person faces.

      My son is already demonstrating enormous ability with science (specifically anatomy and astronomy), has a phenomenal memory and the ability to concentrate on a task that he enjoys for hours. These are valuable traits to any employer. However, it was his late toilet training, inability to make eye-contact and lack of empathy that dominated his teachers' opinions of him in his last school (I eventually withdrew him) – and these were allegedly trained to have a limited understanding of autism.

      While it is a complicated and often baffling condition, there is no need for autism to be the elephant in the room anymore. Many, many, many of mankind's greatest advances came from the obsessions (these days called "special interests") of autistic people and to this day – after everything that I have endured regarding discrimination and the difficulties of the diagnostic procedure – I wouldn't wish to alter my son's autism, but, instead, lessen the wider world's harsh opinion of his differences. And it's for this exact reason that I would strongly urge against the development for a pre-natal autism screen: it's not a "yes" or "no" condition, and by screening all forms of autism out of the next generation, there's a very real danger that we'd also be losing many genuinely brilliant thinkers of the future.

      Finally, as a couple of other people have mentioned already, there are other simple things (like the delayed reaction to a sudden sound) that autistic people frequently display. For example, they next to never "catch" yawns (try it – it's kinda funny), they will have stronger or unexpected reactions to strong flavours and odours and so on. However, these have yet to be gathered together in any sort of formal way to be applied in a clinical setting, and are largely considered to be medical curios by professionals instead of indicators of different forms of brain function.

      There is still so much to be done: don't disparage the small steps along the way.

      January 8, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    @CNN – Could you PLEASE proofread before posting. This article is rife with grammatical errors.

    That said, it sure is nice to know that the right people are attacking this issue. The only way to a proper, clinical diagnosis based on so-called "hard science" (which is what it usually takes to open the funding flood gates of grants and INSURANCE coverage) is through the creative minds of research scientists. KUDOS! This might not be the golden ticket or the holy grail but it certainly is a step toward it.

    December 2, 2010 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. outoutout

    It's an interesting study and I hope research like this is used to genuinely help autistic people integrate better into society... as opposed to, say, identifying us so that we can be eradicated. We all have our place in this world. Just remember, you wouldn't have the Internet without autistic people. 🙂

    December 2, 2010 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dubya

      Al Gore has autism?

      December 2, 2010 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      Bill Gates is, Albert Einstein was also very probably autistic. Mark Zuckerberg (the leader of Facebook) maybe as well.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      OMG! I spit coffee out my nose!! Good one.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  9. Wow.

    That's wonderful. One of the hardest parts with my son was that he is high functioning and it wasn't always obvious to someone who spent very little time with him. There were plenty of times I doubted it myself. It would have made the journey easier to have a definite yes or no back then.

    December 2, 2010 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lisa

      I am experiencing the same now with my son. I hear "I don't see it" so often and "maybe if you disciplined him more." It drives me crazy. They don't live with him.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
    • Wow.

      People can be so insensitive and they may be well meaning but just ignorant. I stopped talking about it a long time ago with other moms and definitely withdrew socially because of it. I always said, there's no blood test for it. It's takes a lot of time and observation.

      It's not as simple as spending 5 minutes with them and saying, "Oh he doesn't have it. They just want to label kids nowadays." Well thanks. I wish you'd have been there when he was 2 so you could have given me this firm answer based on your obvious expertise on the subject. /sarcasm/

      Anyway, I always thought they should be able to see it with MRIs. I'm so glad they're making progress on it. It's great news for people in similar situations and those who just aren't sure if they need to get some early intervention.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • Bek

      I hear you. Though getting to that definite yes or no will be a challenge as long as professionals are not trained that autism is a whole range of disorders. We went to one developmental pediatrician who asked us what we thought was going on with our son, and when we brought up autism she said "but he doesn't act like Rainman". Yeah. And this was a renown developmental ped. in our area... We presented her with copies of the diagnostic criteria and she read them and was shocked that she didn't know all of the symptoms....
      I do remember all of the jerks though who suggested a good beating would cure my child..Or if I let him play with other toddlers more he would be just fine (he still has little interest in playing with anyone...he will play next to someone and not interact) Or my parents (I have Asperger's) who still say "we tried to get you to act normal but you just wouldn't do it"... There are many moments in the journey of life with autism that make us want to crawl under a rock, and others that make us have to get out there and educate where and when we can, to make life better for our loved ones.

      December 2, 2010 at 17:48 | Report abuse |
  10. truthisTRUTH

    whoop de doo!!! you can find out ear,ly but no cure? bad conclusion!!!

    December 2, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CW

      It's an important first step. And if you can catch it earlier, your can begin therapy earlier. But, thanks for your input.

      December 2, 2010 at 09:55 | Report abuse |
  11. mlc

    What does it matter? Autistic person or person with autism? I am sick of the politcal correctness.

    December 2, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      Where is the political correctness problem? I see that as a matter of semantics and nothing more. Don't read into it.

      December 2, 2010 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
    • JL

      It does matter...To parents and family members of these children. Maybe if someone in your life had autism you would feel differently!!!

      December 2, 2010 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Sorry – not true. iT is improper grammer and it makes zero difference in the life of our autisitic child and his family.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Cancerous people? AIDS people? Down Syndromic people? Language MATTERS! Not to all but to many.

      December 2, 2010 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      We also say diabled people, bright people, sad people, American people, white people, black people, young people, old people, athletic people, dumb people, stupid people, lonely people, etc. Its called grammer.

      December 2, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse |
  12. Blessed

    This is extremely encouraging news! Every book, article, etc I've read concludes the best treatment for spectrum disorders is to catch it early; if this tool is perfected and becomes standard, then parents can find out as early as possible and give our kiddos the best chances for overcoming ASD challenges. One day we all hope a cure is found and made available; until then, I celebrate the victories along the way!

    December 2, 2010 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Abd al-Latif

    "Not ready for prime time"?? CNN cannot find writers who don't dredge up cliches that are fully 35 or 40 years old?? Horrible writing. The lead researcher seems completely ego-driven: "NO ONE has measured what we've measured." Focusing only on how wonderfully unique and brilliant is his study–not on helping children who have this terrible problem. Thoroughly annoying all around.

    December 2, 2010 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Abd al-Latif

    We should ask ourselves why autism is becoming so common lately. It can't possibly be genetic evolution–it's happening too fast. Is it really just spoiled or bratty or shy kids who are being "labeled"? May be true with more ambiguous problems like ADHD (in many cases at least), clinical depression, etc.–but not autism. It's a very real, very severe and very biological disorder. There must be some environmental cause of this increasingly common medical disorder–but almost no one is looking at that–it seems genes alone are almost always implicated. This kind of ridiculous genetic determinism is very beneficial to corporations producing environmental contaminants and non-organic food, because it takes the focus off of them. Yeah, there's no real evidence on this yet–but that may be because almost NO ONE is doing any serious research on it. The "vaccines cause autism" nonsense was merely another distraction from the real issue.

    December 2, 2010 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • getsmartamerica

      So true. I am glad that there are some people smart enough to look beyond these political games and distraction tactics used by big drug companies and other corporations.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
    • JnJ

      It's true that more children have been diagnosed with autism in the past few years, though there might be a number of reasons for that. Autism does tend to be a blanket diagnosis for children with rare or hard-to-identify developmental problems, and it was only in 1980s that doctors began diagnosing Aspergers syndrome. In my parents generation, that wasn't the case. Both of my parents can recall relatives that everybody knew were "odd," and who probably would have been diagnosed if they were tested nowadays. That might account for the apparent "increase" in people with autism.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      Again, they changed the label to include anyone, and everyone, no matter what their true disability is; there is no explosion of Autism! Everyone has Autism nowadays! If they rock, they have Autism, if they don't speak, they have Autism, etc. It's like saying everyone with a red rash has poison ivy; it is ridiculous!!!

      December 2, 2010 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
    • KDW

      People are doing research on that. As one poster pointed out one reason my be an increase in diagnosing people who were not diagnosed in the past. There was a research study done recently (I believe it was done somewhere in Europe) that looked at adults living in group homes who had been diagnosed as being mentally handicapped. They found that almost all of them would today have been diagnosed as having autism. There is also an increase in dual diagnosis. I've worked with two children with Down's Syndrome who were also diagnosed as having autism. Asperger's also is a relatively new diagnosis and any person with it over the age of 30 would never have been diagnosed. There also may be a real increase in the proportion of the population who is getting the disorder but that is hard to tell based on the way the diagnosis has been given in the past.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • S

      Sure, it can be genetic evolution. It's a concept called genetic loading in which certain conditions occur at an earlier age and to a higher intensity in subsequent generations. So while Grandpa was a bit quirky and Dad is downright odd with no social skills, Son can be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Genetic loading is a known factor in other conditions (such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and preliminary studies are trying to determine the role it may play in autism.

      December 2, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      Abd, I posted a response in reply to another poster about my experience with environmental conditions. There are some out there researching it. I do believe my son's autism is related to an environmental toxin and the damage happened during my pregnancy. I am not going to repost the entire thing because I first was replying to your post and the internet connection kept messing up on me. But I tend to lead toward a genetic predisposition with an environmental trigger-not vaccines. Many other illnesses and diseases fall into this situation. The problem is finding the triggers.

      December 4, 2010 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
  15. Jakes mom

    The best thing we ever did for our Aspie was keep things normal. He has 5 siblings and they kept him on his toes \, protected him from the world when needed, and help clear a path when he was ready to go down one. My son with Aspergers gained alot from the normals around him

    December 2, 2010 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Lila Belle

    I'm sorry, but calling someone w/Asperger's Syndrome an "Aspie" is goofy sounding. It sounds like a breed of toy dog or something.

    December 2, 2010 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JL

      I agree!!! some of these posts.....

      December 2, 2010 at 10:10 | Report abuse |
    • Jakes mom

      Thats what they call kids with Aspergers, Aspie, there was just an episode on TV Parenthood and they used the same terminology.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Well, dearie, if you don’t like it, don’t use it. When Asperger’s Syndrome is a huge part of your daily life, one tends to use the shorter (and friendlier) name for it, including many Aspie's themselves. What a thoroughly thoughtless comment to make. (Evidence that "normal" people also often say the wrong thing and are not socially appropriate)

      December 2, 2010 at 10:40 | Report abuse |
    • momofm3

      Aspies call you NTs....go find out what that stands for and it might put some more perspective on the whole thing.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
    • Lila Belle

      I don't see how it's "thoughtless" to state one's opinion on a nickname. I DO have an autistic member of the family, so take the chip off your shoulder. We would never refer to him as an "Aspie" or an "Austi" or any other silly nickname for his condition. It sounds demeaning in my "thoughtless" opinion. We refer to him by his name. He is not a condition. He is Jacob, and if it's relevant to the conversation, he is Jacob who also has ASD.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • Mommabear

      Are you offended when someone calls their blonde child, blondie, or toe-head? Some people hide differences perhaps a even ashamed of them, while others embrace them.

      Does anyone other than me remind their child to stop "perseverating," even my 14 year old baby now says it. She is also now great in the art of distraction, but then, she's an aspy sister.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Is it thoughtless to compare the self identifying name some Aspie's use to the name of a dog breed? Yes, it is. It added nothing to the discussion, was ellitist and rude. We could have all lived antoher day very well without your making that comment.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  17. RBA

    It is great news for cases where autism is probable but confirmation needed. MRI's = $$$. Not sure how many parents have the cash laying around to spend money on a brain MRI for the purposes of ruling out autism. You can bet insurance will not cover this procedure.

    December 2, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Penny

      Most people with disabilities have Medicaid; it will pay for it.

      December 2, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • KDW

      I have to disagree with your statement about medicaid. If the family is lower income and qualifies for medicaid, then yes it will be available. If the family makes to much money for medicaid then they have to apply for medicaid disability. The ease with which a family can get medicaid disability is largely based on where you live. I worked with a child who was born with severe brain malformations, required a vent, tube feedings, and wheelchair. She was in and out of hospitals regularly due to her respiratory problems. Her parents applied for medicaid disability soon after she was born and she was still on the waiting list 8 years later.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • Mir


      Don't know from where did you learned this' Most people with disabilities have Medicaid; it will pay for it."
      My son is having Autism and pay good amount for the insurance, still Dr's don't agree on some basic lab tests, rejecting these are not requered etc, forget about paying for MRI's. The insurance companies and dorctor's are not serious about all these. It is very painful for the parents

      December 2, 2010 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      My son has severe autism and we do not have medicaid. Nor do we have SSI or any other assistance. So yes it would be a great help if our insurance would cover it.

      December 4, 2010 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
  18. questionauthority

    I think they are working from the wrong end of the autism problem. Lets spend our efforts and money on finding the cause. Give me 5 minutes with an autistic kid and I'll confirm it for you. Autism is not a disease its a syndrome. A collection of symptoms that classifies one autistic. I dont see the point. Prevention is your cure. Maybe we can get it back to 1 in 10000 like it used to be.

    December 2, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      Phsyical brain evidence CAN lead to determination of cause. It can also lead to the determination that it is genetic, a disease or the result of external influences. Right now, we dont know what it is.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:43 | Report abuse |
    • questionauthority

      To that end I will agree

      December 2, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      You can't cure the problem without understanding the problem first, hence this study.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      My son has Asperger's Syndrome and at times, it's not that obvious. Lots of people can spend 5 minutes with him and think he doesn't have it. In fact, I've had them tell me that before. It might be well meaning but it's ignorant and far from that simple. And frankly, it's insulting to a parent to tell them you have all the answers based on "5 minutes with them". You have no idea what you're talking about. A test like this would be very welcome to parents like me who feel like they have to defend themselves for "labeling" their child on top of actually dealing with the disease.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
  19. sad

    sad thing is autism is probably preventable in most cases. How? Mothers not waiting to have children after 30. There are serious genetic risks for having children after 30. This is proven scientific fact.

    December 2, 2010 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • questionauthority

      Having children after 30 does not cause autism. You are wrong Sir/Madam

      December 2, 2010 at 09:53 | Report abuse |
    • JL

      Preventable??? I was 25 years old when my son was born...trust me if there was something I could have done...I would have done it...by the way I had my second child at 30 and he has no medical issues...

      December 2, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      I had my first son at 20, and he is PDD-NOS (high functioning). I am having another son in about a month, and I am currently 29(had a daughter with no problems, but then she is a girl). I have tried just about everything: not drinking out of plastic (only glass and stainless steel), no high fructose corn syrup, no BPA (no canned food and no handling of receipts), No wrinkle free/no iron shirts (soaked in formaldehyde), trying to eat organic everything (no pesticides, or at least fewer), and finally a very rigid vaccine schedule after he is born, of only a select few vaccines. It is not easy in this world to avoid all of the toxins brought to us by way of oil production, but I am really trying. I am currently crossing my fingers that he does not end up on the spectrum.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Forgot one other thing I have avoided: aspartame and all other artificial sweeteners. I will probably continue to avoid all of these things into the future, especially while breastfeeding.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:22 | Report abuse |
    • Troy's Mom

      Sad, you are difinitely misinformed. I am the parent of a 10 year old son with high functioning autism and a 13 year old son with ADHD, and probably undiagnosed aspergers. This is a complex disease with genetic predisposition and probably environmental triggers. Infact, some studies indicate it involves many of the same brain functions/proteins affected in alzheimer's disease. Other studies indicate it may infact be related more to the Father's age rather than the Mother's age. Do your own research. Check out Autism Speaks http://www.autismspeaks.org/ or Autism Society of America http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer to get the latest accurate information.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      There was a report, actually, I read it on CNN, that stated researchers thought the age of the father might have something to do with it; there is a higher incident of Autism in children whose fathers are over 40 when they are conceived.
      I don't agree with it, but...?
      I still think TRUE Autism is linked to chemical imbalances in parents, especially mothers.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Where to even start with such an obtuse, inaccurate and, frankly, stupid comment? I can't determine the correct point so lets just go with this; Go away and stop posting as if you actually know what your are writting about. You do not. You A) are not intellegent B) cannot reason well and C) are simply rude and thoughtless.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:49 | Report abuse |
    • Mommabear

      I think autism, add, adhd, and depression are all caused by parents who aren't strict enough and discipline their children. Oh wait, that is just idiotic since with 94% accuracy, an MRI helps dr.s detect autism as per the recent study. I think that is safe to write that it's statistically sound.

      The only correlation we know as fact is that preemies are more likely to show symptoms and be impacted by autism. The more severe the prematurity, the more likely the autism which actually makes sense. And, we are saving babies earlier and earlier so logic dictates that rates will continue to rise.

      I am also going to step on board and say that I have had enough with political correctness. Because of political correctness, we are having a more difficult time communicating and understanding what we mean. My son is now grown, but even last year I used the terminology "retarded" in an I.E.P. meeting and was met with relief when i explained that I wanted honest discussion and not the P.C. police. If you don't like it, tough, but everyone knows what I mean and I won't live in denial-land and discuss how one day my son will be a surgeon. He won't be, but he will do the best he can and I will fight for every advantage for him and have. BTW ASPIE isn't a curse word either, anymore than my blondie is a curse word. Again, get over it!

      December 2, 2010 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      Sad, I think you are confusing Autism, and Down's Syndrome, (which is not always caused by mom being too old).

      December 2, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • DC

      Autism has proven to be highly genetic, partcularly in my family. No chemical imbalances or age issues with my parents. Both were undiagnosed aspies!

      December 2, 2010 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • Mir

      you are such a ignorant, look for few families around you and find out . your statements show how much you are ignorant. Don't just write a line after listening from somebody else or reading some junk.

      December 2, 2010 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      I was 21 when my son with autism was born. I was 36 when my son without autism was born. It is not because of the mother's age. That is a more recent theory that has not been shown to be accurate. My children have also been carried to term with no complications with the pregnancy itself.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
  20. think


    You should really research prior to posting. There is no evidence stating that Autism is due to woman having children after 30. It is NOT a scientific proven fact... do some research. With that being said... with a mother of two Asperger children (and I had my children in my 20's) it is great that austim is getting some real reseach.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Penny

      Prior to the label change in 1994, (that began to include brain damaged people under the "Autism umbrella), there was a lot of research into mental illness/chemical imbalances in both mothers, and fathers. This is not something anyone wants to hear, but for me, (I suffered clinical depression during my pregnancy), I think it is something that needs more research. I have a 19 yr. old son, who is labelled Aspergers; he used to have an "Autism" label. Point is, he is Autistic.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Penny – schizophrenia used to be thought to be to be the fault of something the mother had done, but amazingly, science has shown that not to be the case. Autism was the reslt of refridgerator mothers, and we know that not to be true. So can we stop imparting blame now and simply focus on the cause, whatever that may be? You seem to have a huge unvestment in this being your fault. Why?

      December 2, 2010 at 11:03 | Report abuse |

    I usually don't comment on these type discussions but I have a child who has autism. In repsonse to MIC, it does matter and it has nothing to do with political correctness. I have a son who is 19yo, who I had when I was 26. I do not know what caused him to have this terrible disorder nor do I care to know. All I know is I love him more with each day that passes. I do care about how he is treated. Sometimes I often think his world is better than my world. If you have not experience life as I have with my son you have missed out on something unusual and special. Yes, it does get hard at times but not hard enough for me to give up fighting for my son. He is a "person" who has autism, I will not let autism take away the person locked inside. So don't think it doesn't matter how you label someone, because it does. My child just has autism and we will continue to live life at "his" fullest ability whether it be politically correct or not.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Penny

    Personally, I am shocked that they are doing anything for actual Autistic people. Since 1994, when the criteria changed to include, basically, everyone, (no matter what was actually the problem), the truly Autistic fell through the cracks. Everyone scrambled to blame shots, (high fevers cause brain damage), Mercury, (Mercury causes brain damage), etc. 85 percent of people labeled "Autistic" are brain damaged; I even know Down's Syndrome people with an Autism label.
    Prior to 1994, Autism was something you were born with; it still is. Prior to 1994, you would not be labeled Autistic, unless you had an MRI, that showed no damage. There has not been an "explosion" of Autism; there has been a label change.
    There is a difference in being born with a specific abnormality, and having, or getting brain injuries.

    Pre-1994 definition of Autism: Something you are BORN with, that causes you to perceive and relate to the world around you differently than a normal person.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristen

      Wrong. Pre-1994 people with autism who were high functioning were labeled as ""weird, loners, freaks" and tortured and humiliated by their peers and society in general. Now there is a recognition that their brains do not function in the same way as neurotypical people (Hey all of you people who think that word order doesn't matter-how's it feel to be a label?) Yes, high functioning does allow some people to "pass" as normal. Yes, there has been a recent focus on adding more syndroms to the ASD rainbow. This is because the syndromes all present in similar ways with varying levels of symptoms. And comorbidity of ADHD or mental development delays sometimes mask the underlying autism. People for whom the symptoms of autism are very severe are not falling through the cracks. They are just much easier to diagnose. Anyone familiar with autism could have diagnosed Dustin Hoffman's character in RainMan or Jerry on Boston Legal. Most people cannot diagnose my oldest son without getting to know him well. I take that as a compliment since we worked really hard to teach him coping mechanisms to allow him to get through adolesence. But it does not negate his struggle or make his pain any less real than someone who could not go mainstream.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
    • S

      The definition does NOT include everyone, even if they have the three defining features of autism. According to the DSM-IV (the version that came out in 1994 and I imagine what you're referring to) the symptoms must occur prior to age three; while the diagnosis might not be made that early (and we wish it were), the symptoms must be present. If a child develops similar symptoms after age three, we look for something else, or it is considered PDD-NOS (not otherwise specified). Pretty much every diagnosis in the DSM has a NOS category, just like many medical problems are diagnosed as being "ideopathic" in nature. Just doctor-speak for, "hmmmm, we're not quite sure why ...."

      December 2, 2010 at 17:51 | Report abuse |
  23. Berthajane Vandegrift

    Autism is a lack of intuitive ability, automatically absorbing language and culture. Such a deficit is beoming more common in many of us in our rapidly changing society. Some of us are able to develop other ways of coping – learning and creative intelligence replacing intuitive abilities. The cited test would be wonderful, but my autistic son wold never have gone to sleep and allowed his brain to be scanned.
    Some Impertinent Questions about Autism, Freudianism and Materialism

    December 2, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lynn

      There is a machine that can take a full scan without having the child fall asleep or be completely still. They have one at Baylor-Houston and at the Civitan International Research Center at The University of Alabama-Birmingham. It has been around for a few years now. If I remember correctly, the doctor that invented it works at Baylor-Houston now, but was developing it for the research center. That is why those two locations have one.

      December 4, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
  24. jpr

    A great use of this test be to compare random population samples at each age, and see how or if true rates of autism have changed. It would be great if the test could distinguish between MR cases, and autism.

    Scientifically, this is very interesting. As a diagnostic tool for young children, I don't see it happening as described. Hopefully, kids won’t be denied services because they are unable to fall asleep in a machine and complete the test.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Penny

      They used to distinguish between MR and Autism, with MRI's and scans.....now, here we are again. I agree with you; they need to distinguish between the two; they are a totally different "thing."

      December 2, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
  25. razzlea

    Check out my health and fitness blog http://razzlea.blogspot.com/

    December 2, 2010 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Patricia

    As the parent of an autistic son, i am constantly amazed at how people act on this issue. I am so glad that research is finding answers. I really wish, though, that people who comment would do so with compassion. My son is a human, and i am delighted to know him despite his difficulties. I just wish others would treat them as humans, and not test subjects. No, being over 30 does not cause autism in your children. Check your facts. Nobody really knows. However, i would rather live in my world than yours. My son and I have love in our hearts, not rudeness.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jjheinis

      The key is to teach him to survive in a world which does not understand nor care. That is not easy.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
  27. John Best

    This is some good propaganda. It will make uneducated people believe that there is some difference in the brain itself while these liars ignore the fact that autism is the result of a normal brain being damaged by mercury.
    We have had a test to predict autism for a long time and these liars know that too. It's a blood test to see which version of the APO proteins a person has. If a kid has the APO-E4 and you inject mercury into him when he's a newborn, it will cause brain damage. Didn't Dr Gupta learn this in Med school?

    December 2, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jjheinis

      Aspberger's Syndrome was published in 1941 in German. Most Americans don't read German so psychiatrists only became aware of it in the 1990's. Physicians generally focus on diseases which are readily treated by virtue of knowledge of their biochemistry, as well as through surgical intervention. People with high functioning autism have generally "fallen through the cracks'" especially once they reach adulthood because they are no longer cute and cuddly children. Unfortunately, there is no miraculous cure once the patient reaches 18.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      YOu are right, Mercury causes brain damage; it does not, however, cause Autism; you are born with Autism.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
  28. questionauthority

    I dont care.... I will say it. Dont vaccinate!!! Here it comes.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      Yeah, junk science, yestedays fight and already proven to not be the direct cause. Go ahead, don't vaccinate – I'll take my Aspie over your dead from polio or measels kid any day. Maybe you are too young to remember people who died from those diseases, but I am not. Hysterical stupidity.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
    • questionauthority

      It will be revealed one day and you will be eating crow. Heart goes out to you however and hope your Aspie kid is doing find. My child still doesn't talk. By the way Im not worried about Polio or measles. Ill take the risks over Autism anyday. Oh did you know that Autism is now at blistering rate of 1 in 98 in some states. Horrible odds. Horrible condition.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • Lewis

      Proven false with data to back it up. The link between vaccines and autism is anecdotal. In other words around the time that children showed signs of autism just happened to be around the same time they were vaccinated. It was tested thoroughly and repeatedly. It is not the cause.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      I spent alot of time looking at the science in the argument of vaccines causality in autism – its just not there. The millions of kids without autism and who have been vaccinated simply cannot be gotten rid of. If its a side effect, than the child already had the predisposition or underlying condition, and the vaccine experience was only a trigger event. The disease itself would be too, in that case, so you gain nothing by boycotting vaccines. There are many other likely causes, both environmental and genetic. I also wish you the best – keep the faith.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • questionauthority

      I would be more apt to believe you if you had a child die from Polio or had a debilitating reaction to the meseals virus but you dont. You instead have an Aspie kid and you are defending the vaccine program vehemently. This is highly suspect. Especially knowing that vaccines (autism aside) kill and maim. Read the warnings on the label, take a gander at the CDC's website. Even they warn you of the potential risks. This will be my last response.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      we agree on this one! Anyone whose child has died from a preventable disease will tell you....you need to vaccinate your child! I, too, remember people with mumps, measles, and polio; let's not forget the worst one, meningitis.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • bkhundley

      Telling people not to vaccinate their kids is incredibly irresponsible and puts the lives of those children and their entire community at risk from completely preventable diseases. This question has been looked at by many, many well controlled studies and there is simply zero evidence for a link between vaccines and autism. Zero. Vaccines are not risk free, there is very small level of risk, but there is a very small risk in driving your kids to school. The question is what is the least risk for the most benefit. Children who are not vaccinated run a high risk of serious illness and even death, and this has to be compared to the much, much smaller risk of an adverse reaction to vaccines. The only rational response when confronted with such disproportionate risks is to take the lowest risk option. The real risk is to NOT vaccinate.

      And before the nonsense about "big Pharma" evil comes out, here's a hint: big pharma makes very little money from vaccines, which is why there are only a few companies that still make them. Its much more profitable to focus on erection pills or "happy" pills. The truth is there is no conspiracy around vaccines, and they are one of the most single most effective medical advances in the history of our species. Please try educating yourself and stop spreading extremely harmful propaganda.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      Vaccines do not cause Autism.
      My son was born Autistic.
      And I think I forgot to say that he is the joy of my life; I wouldn't change him if I could...He is extremely smart, and loving. Whatever caused it, I have never asked "Why me?" unless it was to wonder what I ever did good enough, that I was blessed with this precious gift.
      If there was a magic pill that would make him "normal," I wouldhave a hard time giving it to him; I know it's selfish, but it's true. I love him, just the way he is.

      December 2, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      It is very rare that you will find a study in which the conclusions are against vaccines. No one will fund such studies, and when they do happen, the researchers who publish said studies (if they can find a journal to publish in) will be out of not just a job, but a career. You cannot go against the orthodox way of thinking.

      Everyone just assumes that vaccines are the reason for some of the conditions we vaccinate for being at such low rates, but each vaccine should be tried on its own personal merits. Meningitis and HIB, if they work, are worth vaccinating for. Polio and smallpox we do not give vaccines for, and no one is running around with polio or smallpox so long as they are not immunodeficient.

      December 2, 2010 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • questionauthority

      Im sorry I said i would not post anymore but I cant refrain. An article in the March 10, 2006 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons shows that since mercury was removed from childhood vaccines, the alarming increase in reported rates of autism and other neurological disorders in children not only stopped, but actually dropped sharply – by as much as 35%. Someone tell me this is a lie.

      December 2, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      There are children today in the US who died from preventable diseases, and there are infants who have died because some children are not vaccinated against whooping cough. It is inexusable. There are no fewer than 19 studies which fail to show a causal link between vaccines and autism.

      Penny – you should look at joining linked in – they have several parents groups about autism; parents with patients and austim speaks which are great chat spots. Keep the faith – love your last post!

      December 2, 2010 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • SeanNJ

      A 2003 paper published in the journal, claiming that vaccination was harmful, was criticized for poor methodology, lack of scientific rigor, and outright errors by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

      December 2, 2010 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Laura, of course they show no link, look at who paid for them. Most of these studies were done in Denmark and other countries and the results and data were manipulated. Also, the pertussis vaccine does not stop a person from being a carrier of the bacteria. It is supposed to stop people from getting it as bad and coughing on others, thereby stopping transmission, but it does not. There is a resurgence of Bordella Pertussis every 4 years or so, despite vaccination rates. Also, many adults do not get boosters (so that throws your idea of just children giving it to babies out the window); and many of the infants who have died of whooping cough had already had at least one of the three shot series. The best thing to do is keep them breastfed and away from everyone, including extended and close family members, if possible. Do not go to the grocery store, etc... But since it is passed through fluids, make darn sure that nobody coughs around the baby. Please do a little, just a little, research before spouting off that children die of preventable diseases. The only thing that can prevent death from a disease is a healthy immune system, not necessarily a concoction made by a pharmaceutical industry.

      SeanNJ, of course they did. Perhaps the study was flawed, however, I would never ever take at face value any PR put out by the WHO or especially the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others (NIH, CDC, FDA, AMA, etc).

      December 2, 2010 at 19:16 | Report abuse |
  29. TONY

    I also heard that if a father or mother is a regular drug and alcohol user, this can cause the child to become authistic. I also heard that if the mother or father has a STD, this will cause the child to have autism. Eventually this will lead to a divorce?

    December 2, 2010 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peanut the Destroyer

      I heard that it was little green men from outspace who abducted pregnant women and altered the DNA of thier unborn offspring. That leads to a place in the new Klingon hierarchy, divorced or not.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
    • jjheinis

      Perhaps it may cause them to be authentic. One should treat all people with kindness and respect. However, that is not the case in this social environment where these traits are driven out of the gene pool in favor of aggression.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      I have never been a drug or alcohol user. I have never had an STD. I am healthy and I have a son with autism. The other parents I know with affected children are not now, nor have they ever been drug or alcohol abusers (I will not ask about STD's though for obvious reasons).

      December 4, 2010 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
  30. jim Tuffit

    A look at the headlines betrays the bias of this "news source." Where is the headline about the rangel censure? Bury it and the average reader won't notice. Is this a "news source" or a tabloid rag?

    December 2, 2010 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. John

    I would be interested to know, from those parents with autistic children, what they truly, "in their gut", feel the cause of autism is.....I have found that a mothers instincts are usually quite accurate... Science seems to deny vaccinations, as proof the special courts that prevent any litigation in that realm, however I am not totally convinced either way. I have never seen a placebo, double blinded, controlled study to prove otherwise. Check out the instances of autism in the Amish communities. I do have a hard time believing that over the last couple of decades, we are having a "genetic epidemic" with our children. I do not buy into it. Something is causing this so called epidemic of genetic expression. I believe the cause is before our eyes.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Penny

      I believe my chemical imbalance caused my child's Autism. I work in a school system, and have two acquaintances/co-workers with Autistic children; both ladies are bi-polar, (one of them has two children; both are Autistic).
      Another friend of mine, committed suicide last year; she had suffered from debilitating, depressive episodes all her adult life; her one child is Autistic.
      My oldest son suffers from mental illness; we did not see symptoms until he was out of high school. My youngest son is Autistic, (high functioning/no brain damage).
      I was told about the suspected connection by a psychiatrist in 1995; it caused a light to go on in my head. I had no more children. It was years later, that I met the above mentioned ladies; it just made the theory more interesting, even if it is highly unpopular. Mental illness still has such a bad, social stigma...

      December 2, 2010 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
    • Well...

      I can tell you my gut told me something was wrong. As far as what caused it...I don't know that I've ever had a definite gut feeling. I could make you a list of probably a hundred things it could be...in a lot of those things I blame myself...maybe I tried to breastfeed him too long after my dad died when he was 3 months old and I wasn't eating as well as I should have.

      But then remember that he was breech and didn't turn on his own and breech births have a higher incidence autism statistically. I ate a lot of tuna when I was pregnant because they said you should at that time. Only later did I find out about all the mercury in tuna.

      He was sick with a fever less than a week before his mmr shot and thought they had stopped putting mercury in the shots by then, clinics were still allowed to use what they had in stock. It's very possible his vaccine had mercury in it and with that on top of his weakened immune system...it could be an indication of what caused it since it was a few weeks later I realized he wasn't pointing at things and had stopped making sounds and definitely didn't have any speech, which he didn't until after age two, and with therapy.

      A long time ago, I came to the place of acceptance where I may never know what caused it. Or I may and I might just find out it was my fault. If it was, I know I didn't mean to hurt him and would never have done whatever I did wrong if I'd realized. And I forgave myself and started to focus on how lucky we are and how much worse it could be. And I'd like to know what caused it, but I don't dwell on it anymore.

      December 2, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • CAB

      I believe researchers will discover that ASD is not caused by any one thing, but is a combination of a genetic disposition and environmental factors. In the case with my son, I can look back three generations and see relatives that may be classified as ASD today – an obvious genetic disposition. However, I don't believe that genetics alone cause ASD – or all the children in our family would be affected. Mercury could very well play a part – but I think they will find there are other environmental factors as well. I am very grateful that there are people/organizations out there looking. Thank you!

      December 2, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      John, I believe environmental factors affected my son's development while in utero. When my unaffected daughter was one, we moved to another area 600 miles away from where I grew up and currently live. Within a month after I moved there, I began to have boughts of severe vertigo, and I developed a rash. By the time I was pg with my son 8 months later, I had the rash all over my hands, arms, and legs. When I was 7 months pg, the rash was now on my stomach as well. A doctor diagnosed me with scabies. I had never heard of that up until that point. He treated me, but he shortened the time since I was pg. That didn't work because that was not the problem. After my oldest son was born, my weight dropped down to 90 pounds and I am 5'7". During the four years I lived in that area, I fought the vertigo and rashes the entire time. When I got the vertigo, I could just sleep it off. The dizziness usually lasted about 24 hours. I thought I was going to die. My son caught pneumonia when he was 26 months old and was hospitalized for 4 days. The doctors told me that it was normal for him to regress due to the experience. Shortly after that, he started stimming. It would be almost a year before a doctor finally did something about my concerns. My son was almost 3 when I moved back (I left my husband behind so that I could live again. He eventually moved back with us). As soon as I moved, my son's new doctor immediately started him in therapy. I did find a great doctor just before I moved back who was very concerned, but I had already made the decision to move and he didn't have enought time to actually treat and evaluate my son. When my son was diagnosed at 3, the occurence rate was 2 in 10000. I find it hard to believe that genetics and "blanket diagnoses" could increase it to 1 in 144. No one will ever convince me that whatever was making me so sick didn't affect my son during his development. I have a few theories about what was causing me to get sick, but I will not go into that. I am not saying every person in that area should worry, but that something specific that was occurring there caused me to have a reaction so severe that I thought I was going to die. I haven't had vertigo since I moved back and the eczema decreased by 98% immediately. The damage was already done though. We now also have a 20 month old son who shows no signs of the disability. His eye contact is great, his socialization is wonderful, and everything else is on schedule or ahead of schedule, and he does receive his vaccinations. Though yes I would prefer not to inject my son, I went through pneumonia with my older son, and I saw the parents of my daughter's friend when they went through meningitis. I would not want to put my son through that pain and fear. The timing of my older son's symptoms and the vaccines do not add up. Although I do sometimes wonder about the high fever he had when he had pneumonia since his stimming began within a month. The only thing I remember prior to that was he didn't respond to his reflection in the mirror like you would expect. But since it was now over 15 years ago and I wasn't really looking for anything wrong, I am not sure if I even really tried to get him to look at his reflection enough. BTW my 20month old is pointing and saying "you." My older son refers to himself by name and uses mommy and daddy and his sister and brother's names. He doesn't use pronouns at all. His language development practically stopped by the time he was 2 1/2. Before that he was using words even some in spanish because my husband's grandparents do not speak english. I watch my younest son very carefully for any signs, but I do not believe I will ever see any because although I have been back to that area to visit, I will not live there again and have not had any of those symptoms since leaving. My body attacked itself and my unborn child. That is why my son has autism. I only know one person with more than one child with autism and she happens to blame vaccines. Her children have mild symptoms. My son is severe. He will never be independent. We do have to be concerned with what damage we are causing.

      December 4, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  32. jjheinis

    As a adult living with Aspbergers, the key is to treat people as people. We Aspies, make the mistake of believing that people say what they mean. That is one of the main difficulties with social interaction: People lie, cheat and steal and enjoy it. Although autism can be diagnosed, the key is being able to help people to live in a society where nonverbal communication is the key to determining if a person is lying or not. Aspies believe that people are honest and can work together. In today's society and political environment, that is a huge mistake.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Jennifer

    Both of my sons are autistic. I am not looking for a "cure" to suggest that this should be the purpose of all medical involvement in Autism is both offensive and short-sighted. To assume that we all want paper cut-out families is silly. I love that my children are able to see the world outside of the narrow parameters of "normal". My oldest son was part of this study and he was proud to contribute to research that will lead to early detection and strategies that will allow other Autistic people to get on with life without giving up what they are.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. momofm3

    It's encouraging every time I hear about these studies, to know that there are studies going on, despite the economic downturn. Since there is no drug to throw at autism right now, drug companies don't feel inclined to invest in these studies. The money comes from other places, and those folk are still at it...GOOD FOR YOU. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    My son's MRI was rather traumatic though, even with sedation. I could hear him screaming through the wall, even over the awful beeping the machine makes. The results were useful, but I'd shy away from putting my kid through that just to find out something a psychiatrist and a developmental pediatrician can tell you.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. LK

    All the research currently being conducted on autism is a welcome sign. For something that has been around forever but only recently recognized, it may seem like this is just some trendy thing cooked up by the drug makers. But as someone who wasn't diagnosed until 33 it would have made my life a little easier if I had known much sooner.

    Someday being able to use MRI technology to diagnose autism or Asperger's would be wonderful. But the cost would be a problem. Insurance won't cover it, and even today's methods for identifying high functioning autism aren't cheap. Not to mention finding a clinic that can do the testing is a headache. Especially if you are an adult. Don't get me started on the topic of fewer females getting diagnosed or not used in the research studies.

    December 2, 2010 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. JT

    Mathematics: Even if the test were to catch every case, the problem is the false positives. There will be more false diagnoses than genuine ones. Here's why:

    If autism actually occurs in a little less than 1% of people, then even a tiny false positive rate of 1% means that half the people diagnosed with autism with this technique won't actually have autism. Out of every 100 people, about 1 will be correctly diagnosed, and 1 will be incorrectly diagnosed. Since the false positive rate is significantly higher than that, the majority of people diagnosed won't actually have autism. But they will be labelled that way.

    There is little diagnostic point in scanning adolescents and adults who already exhibit behavioral signs of autism. This test will be applied to very young children. Since it is too expensive for general use, it will be applied to kids who already show signs of autism. Thus, the success rate of the test will be artificially inflated. Sort of like inventing a test for water, and applying it primarily to places that are already clearly wet.

    This is an excellent start for understanding the neurology of autism. But a lot more work needs to be done before it becomes an useful screening test.

    December 2, 2010 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Penny

      Thank you, JT, for posting a very correct, yet unpopular fact about the overinflated numbers being used today to support the "Autism explosion."
      True Autism is rare.
      This test will be unpopular, the same as MRI's were unpopular prior to 94; no one wants to hear their child has brain damage, and is MR; they would rather hear the child is "Autistic."

      December 2, 2010 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
  37. Dad_Of_Aspie

    As the dad of an Aspie (he likes the term, thank you!), I'm sad to see so many people who think Asperger's Syndrome is something that has to be cured. God made my son just as He would have him to be. He picked my wife and I to rasie our son because He knew that we would welcome and love him just the way he is. My son is almost 14 and is a great kid! Sure we've had to make modifications to help him fit in, but don't you do that with all children? He's an A-B student, plays three musical instruments, acts with the local dinner theater, and has his first girlfriend. He lights up a room just by walking in. He's polite, affectionate, and cares for others. My son doens't need fixing, because he's not broken. I do believe that Asperger's Syndrome is genetic and not a new thing. My 90 year old uncle is an Aspie if there ever was one – they just didn't know what it was in the 1920's. I am probably somewhere on the Autism Spectrum myself! But I'm happily married, have a great kid, work in a field that I enjoy, and make enough to live comfortably. To those with extreme ASD and their families, I hope for a cure. But my sweet little Aspie is perfect just the way he is!

    December 2, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jennifer

      Exactly how we feel about our sons (though they detest the name "Aspie".) They are a gift to all who know and love them. Like you, there is very clear evidence of Asperger traits throughout our family. We like to think of ourselves as simply "more interesting" than most!

      December 2, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      Amen to that! I am the sister of a wonderful and goodhearted Aspie, and I agree wholeheartedly!

      December 2, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • DC

      While it is nice to see a dad validate his son, those of us who WANT to be cured so we can live a (little bit more) normal life, may disagree with you!

      December 2, 2010 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
  38. DC

    What is sad is that this article does not make mention of "where" one is on the autism spectrum when they this test is applied!

    If it is at some point, to be used for example, as a tool for establishing whether one can draw disability due to Autism or Aspergers, those of us who are high functioning should be eligible as well.

    December 2, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Ames Wolffe

    Scientists believe that autism is genetic in 90% or more of the cases. It may very well be that being genetically prone to low levels of Glutathione and ALA (necessary for the human body to rid itself of toxic metals) are the causative factor concerning the symptomatic disease autism.

    December 2, 2010 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • questionauthority

      Its simple. Not all those who drink become alcholics. Not all those who smoke get cancer. You cannot catagorize Autism as a genetic disease. Downs is genetic, Angelmans syndrome is genetic. Autism is not genetic. Sure there is a genetic component but catching a specific flu virus has a genetic component. Does that mean getting the flu is a genetic disease. Ames your right about it being a causative factor ( not sure if your 90% of scientist comment is entirely true) but i dont understand why the general public loose their common sense when talking about this issue.

      December 2, 2010 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
  40. Jay

    People, don't buy this for one second. ADD, Autism both are defined by behaviorial symptoms and all have wide ranges. Basically, there really isn't a "Yes" or "No" on these defects. That is why there has been a massive increase of cases in recent decades. Put simply, doctors are too quick to diagnose it, and frankly just want to pump drugs. Well screw that. Unless your child has an obvious severe case of either, DONT take them in. It may ruin their future all in the name of making money from drugs.

    December 2, 2010 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lynn

      My son is nonverbal and will need care the rest of his life. He is not now nor has he ever been on medication of any kind other than a daily vitamin. So you cannot use a blanket statement that doctors are quick to diagnose and medicate. Autism is not ADD/ADHD.

      December 4, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
  41. mslman71

    I'm very glad I predated the medication era. I find my mental chaos a bit frustrating at times but I've learned to use it to my advantage. Maintaining attention is like building a house of cards in a gusty windstorm. Of course, not having been medicated I have nothing against which to compare my experiences. Although they originally labeled me unteachable, encountering the right people (dumb luck) and having the right teachers and learning environment helped me to get to where I am now – well educated (multiple post graduate degrees), financially stable, husband and a father. There's a part of me that wants to go back to my teachers from the early years and shove my degrees in their face, but what would be the point? They had no idea. I am not in a position to make any broad claims about what the right thing to do with autistic/ADHD/asperger/etc. types of disorders – I only have my personal experience, but know that given the right environment, many of the issues can be overcome and even used to advantage.

    December 2, 2010 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • questionauthority

      I applaud your success!!

      December 2, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
  42. Pete

    I am an Aspy and though I always knew that I was different, it would have been very helpful to have known conclusively a lot sooner. I was only diagnosed 3 years ago at the age of 24. Before that time, I was just seen as eccentric and cold.

    I take a little bit of issue with some who say that those with High Functioning Autism are in some way superior. I have been hearing this ever since I was diagnosed. Where I am immensely intelligent, I would gladly trade 50 or 60 IQ points and be considered relatively average with respect to intelligence to gain the ability to better understand sarcasm or read someone’s emotions.

    When I cannot tell when people are upset with the things I say or when I become overwhelmed because of loud noises or the extreme stress associated with just living as an Aspy, I certainly do not feel superior.

    December 2, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Mark McKee

    A gentleman named Dr. William Condon, discovered a pretty simple test back in the 60s, where he filmed infants reacting to a loud noise from behind. He found a time lag, between the noise and the childs reaction. Each child had the exact same lag time when tested over & over, non autistic children had almost no time lag, while autistic children had a longer time lag, and, the more severe the autism, the longer the timelag. Now there were colleagues who disputed his work because they were professional & financially tethered to their own competing theories, so here we are, in the 21st century, and his discovery has yet to surface to the mainstream. It says a lot about politics & science, restricting advancement and costs spiraling out of control. I wish Dr. Gupta would give a primer on the effects of politics, and personal interests, on scientific research.

    December 2, 2010 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SooBee

      Interesting, Mark...when my daughter was born, she failed the newborn hearing test repeatedly. We brought her back to the hospital at two weeks old to have the tests doen again...same result. Six months later with an audiologist, same result.
      She is obviously NOT deaf...diction was crisp early on....then she stopped speaking and making eye contact. After intensive therapies, she began to speak and again, her diction was clear...she reads at a third grade level but is five years old...plays two instruments (piano, harp) and can read music though usually plays by ear. We decided that she was using a different part of her brain to process sound than was measured in the newborn hearing test....I think there is a real connection here. English is a language where text is sounds are that represented by letters....its not like Chinese, for example....and she started reading SO early....she doesn't flap, but taps....when she reads or is processing. She told me she taps to put music on the page....

      January 6, 2011 at 21:55 | Report abuse |
  44. alex

    with 'steps' like these, we'll need thick soles. Disorganized wiring????

    December 2, 2010 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Mel

    As a mother of a child with autism, my "gut instinct" tells me that the triggering event was her sever reaction to the MMR vaccine. My child actually developed the measles a week after the vaccine and this was confirmed by her pediatrician. When she recovered, we noticed changes. She slowly lost her words and physically became weak. Every doctor we took her to shot us down when we even mentioned the word MMR and no lawyer will take the case to the Vaccine Court since the NIH declared "no link" between vaccines and neurological changes. So, in my "maternal" opinion, I believe the virus caused a demyelinating event and a year later, she is starting to recover her lost abilities.

    December 2, 2010 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. angie

    My youngest child (a girl) was diagnosed as severe/profound autistic and my son is on the extremely bright but quirky end of the asperger scale My maternal gut instinct says a combinaton of factors can cause autism–the environment, genetic suseptibility, medications etc etc. I had toxemia both times I was pregnant and have mentally unstable family members on both sides. Was this mix of factors the cause? maybe-was it the fish I ate my whole life? could be-in hindsight I can see my daughter was autistic at birth, although she was not diagnosed until after she was three. Up until then we went through HELL-a test to confirm autism would have been a blessing if not much else

    December 2, 2010 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. owarfhupwairepqughqpugh

    You don't need a test. You're all a bunch of flippin' retards.

    December 2, 2010 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. tc

    What I'd like to know is why BOYS are so much more susceptible to autism. Is the Y chromosome involved? Or testosterone levels? Perhaps, if they research this more, we may find some clues to unlocking the cause(s).

    December 2, 2010 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. t nwachu

    to all the parents with autistic kids pray just pray i did and my two autistic kids are doing great the oldest is in college the youngest is doing great in high school..............my ex-husband who didnt want to stick around out of shame well.....hes remarriied with two autistic girls mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm dont underestimate these kids.

    December 3, 2010 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. BillS

    Maybe they will design a test that can be done in time to let the parents decide if they want to end the pregnancy.

    December 3, 2010 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lynn

      I bet all the people with autism posting are glad that most intelligent people know better than to post a statement like this.

      December 4, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
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