Podcast: Biology of profound and non-profound autism

Scientists have spent a lot of time trying to understand the biology of autism, unfortunately in the past, scientific studies had everyone with autism lumped together in one group and there are so many differences between people with a diagnosis that any features of the diagnosis itself were hard to detect. In the past, researchers grouped those who are cognitively abled with those who have average or superior intellectual disability, those who are able to express themselves verbally with those who cannot, and those who need 24-hour care with those who can live independently. This week, researchers changed that pattern of lumping all the autisms together by using profound autism as a subgroup and as a way to determine differences across autism subgroups. Researchers at @UCSD examined the cell sizes and the brain sizes of individuals with profound autism and compared them to those with non-profound autism. They found the larger the brain cell, the larger the brain size in different areas, and the more profound the autism. There were differences between profound autism, non-profound autism and typically developing controls. This is just a first step in using different classifications of behavior to understand the neurobiology of ASD and link brain function to autism behaviors, leading to more specific support for those across the spectrum. Learn more on this week’s podcast episode.




Dr. Alycia Halladay