A breakthrough in autism treatment?

A breakthrough in autism treatment?

More information has been uncovered on the relationship between autism spectrum disorder and brain wiring.

According to research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, autism spectrum disorder affects the brain’s production of myelin, impacting the movement of signals through the brain.

Myelin insulates the nerves in the brain and spinal cord and enables the quick transmission of signals along nerves. An overproduction or underproduction of myelin can lead to a variety of neurological conditions.

Researchers, excited by the discovery, are saying it could be possible to make these cells “healthier” by using drugs to treat myelination.

Dr. Sarah Bauer, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and and a leader in the ECHO Autism program at Advocate Children’s Hospital, also is encouraged by the findings.

“As a developmental pediatrician, I think about how our understanding of the ‘why’ connects to what we can do to support children and families we encounter in clinic,” Dr. Bauer says. “If we understand more about why developmental differences like autism occur, the next step is figuring out how we can translate this information into early intervention and support our children’s developmental trajectories.”

Dr. Bauer also says this research provides more to support the need for individualized intervention in children.

“There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment model for autism,” she says. “At a population level, this speaks to why we need to consider more innovative ways to meet the diagnostic and individualized intervention needs for children and families.”

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.