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

October 17, 2012

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.

Explore further: New research may lead to improved diagnosis of autism

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

New research may lead to improved diagnosis of autism

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 ...

EEG test to identify autism in children

June 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 ...

Recommended for you

Low glycemic index diet reduces symptoms of autism in mice

June 9, 2015

Bread, cereal and other sugary processed foods cause rapid spikes and subsequent crashes in blood sugar. In contrast, diets made up of vegetables, fruits and whole grains are healthier, in part because they take longer to ...

Neuroscientists reveal autism's 'noisy' secret

May 26, 2015

Strapped into a motion-enabled simulator and wearing 3D glasses, 36 adolescent volunteers recently experienced what it was like to "travel" through a field of virtual stars. The experiments provided new and convention-busting ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

workingwithautism
not rated yet 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.