Children with autism can identify misbehavior but have trouble putting it in words

Children with autism have difficulty identifying inappropriate social behavior, and even when successful, they are often unable to justify why the behavior seemed inappropriate. New brain imaging studies show that children with autism may recognize socially inappropriate behavior, but have difficulty using spoken language to explain why the behavior is considered inappropriate, according to research published Oct. 17 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Elizabeth Carter from Carnegie Mellon University and colleagues.

The authors say the results of their functional MRI studies support previous behavioral studies that reached similar conclusions about in children with autism. In the current study, the researchers asked children with autism and children with typical development to identify in which of two pictures a boy was being bad (social judgment), or which of two pictures was outdoors (physical judgment). Both groups successfully performed the task, but the children with autism showed activity in fewer involving social and language networks while performing the task. Even though language was not required for the task, the children with typical development recruited language areas of the brain while making their decisions.

According to the authors, their results support the hypothesis that children with autism may recognize socially inappropriate behavior, but have difficulty using spoken language to explain why the behavior is considered wrong. They suggest that this decreased use of language may also make generalization of the knowledge more difficult.

"These results indicate that it is important to work with these children on translating their knowledge into language", says Carter.

More information: Carter EJ, Williams DL, Minshew NJ, Lehman JF (2012) Is He Being Bad? Social and Language Brain Networks during Social Judgment in Children with Autism. PLoS ONE 7(10): e47241. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047241

Related Stories

EEG test to identify autism in children

date Jun 26, 2012

The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has recently increased to one in 100. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine demonstrates that EEG can distinguish betwee ...

New research may lead to improved diagnosis of autism

date May 31, 2011

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) may provide an early and objective indicator of autism, according to researchers at Columbia University in New York City, who used the technique to document language impairment ...

Recommended for you

Age at autism diagnosis differs between boys, girls

date 3 hours ago

Girls are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) later than boys, possibly because females exhibit less severe symptoms, according to a study to be presented Tuesday, April 28 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) ...

Some children lose autism diagnosis but still struggle

date Apr 26, 2015

About one in 14 toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) no longer met the diagnostic criteria in elementary school, but most continued to have emotional/behavior symptoms and required special ...

Can a parent's concerns predict autism?

date Apr 23, 2015

As co-director of the University of Alberta's Autism Research Centre, Lonnie Zwaigenbaum has devoted much of his career to understanding how to identify autism as early as possible. But despite his years ...

Home-based treatment of autism

date Apr 22, 2015

Much can still be done to improve autism treatment besides finding a cure. The MICHELANGELO project, which ended in March, has developed a set of technologies for personalised, home-based behaviour monitoring and treatment ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

workingwithautism
Oct 22, 2012
Interesting article.
Working with Autism, located in Los Angeles, has helped hundreds of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to achieve their maximum potential for independence.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.