Hugs for Autism

Kiannah Dole, Photojournalist

Have you broken a bone before and needed to take an X-ray in order to properly see it?  Well, thanks to new research, doctors will soon be able to see autism just as clearly as seeing a broken bone on an X-ray.


What is autism? Autism is a disorder of brain development that is characterized by repetitive behavior, difficulties with social interaction, and challenges with verbal and nonverbal communications. Although signs are not typically seen until 2 or 3 years of age, autism is deep rooted in very early brain development.


Before the new research, doctors typically diagnose psychiatric disorders, such as autism, based on a clinical behavior assessment that tends to be quite subjective and highly nuanced. With 97 percent accuracy, Carnegie Mellow University researchers have now created a potentially decisive way to diagnose autism and other psychiatric disorders. It is very well-known that people who have autism act differently in social occasions that those without autism. Unlike their peers, their ability to tune in to the thoughts and feelings of others does not develop in the same way. Lead researcher Marcel Just uses this information about their thought process and discovered the exact part of the brain in which those with autism process information differently. Just like an X-ray for broken bones, brain scans can be used to see this difference in the brain to the thought of a hug, which is a very common form of social interation.

This new research will be able to help diagnose many people all over the world more accurately; thus, we will more quickly be able to help these individuals receive the care and attention they need. Although this disorder along with the extra care and attention makes them a bit different from others, it doesn’t make it right to shun or not befriend them for their differences. Anh-Thu Tran (10) says, “I actually have an older cousin on my dad’s side who has autism. She’s shy sometimes, but – if you’re very close to her – she can be very funny. She loves Marvel superheroes and listening to music.” From this, what makes this individual any different from us with a similar love for Marvel superheroes and listening to music? There is no reason why we should be treating them with any unkindness or disrepect. Right here at Yorba Linda High School, we have students who have autism, and they are surely no different in characteristics and interests than other Mustangs.