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Autism linked to prediction problems in the brain

Lana Bandoim's picture

Researchers have discovered that autism is linked to problems making predictions, and this may help explain some of the common behavioral traits seen in autistic children. The lack or reduced function of a predictive ability in the brain causes children to have anxiety and other issues. The new study points out why change is difficult for people with autism.


Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the neurological symptoms of autism and discovered an unusual trait inside the mind of autistic children. They found problems with their predictive abilities, so the children had a hard time predicting the future or understanding why events occur. Predictive skills varied from child to child, but most of them saw the world as a new place every day and had a hard time adjusting to change.

Scientists have linked some of the common symptoms of autism to the issues with predictive skills. They noted that the repetitive behavior that is so frequently seen among autistic children may be their attempt to manage a world that appears new to them. They do the same tasks or repeat the same words because it provides comfort from the constant changes around them. Researchers also believe that issues such as sensitivity to sound are related to predictive abilities. Autistic children may not remember a loud sound from a previous encounter and cannot predict it, so they react with meltdowns or other coping mechanisms.

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Social interactions are also affected by predictive ability, and autistic children may have problems relating to others because they cannot predict how the person will act. Any type of change is difficult for most autistic people to tolerate, and researchers believe that all of these symptoms are tied together to a neurological problem. They hope more studies will help develop therapies to deal with predictive skills.

Read more about autism:
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Family being deported because of autistic child: Maria Sevilla reveals details

Image: Allan Ajifo/Wikimedia Commons