Friday, March 05, 2010

Clinic Notes: Does Early ABA Rewire the Brain?

In the developing infants brain billions of axons (nerve fibers) that conduct electro/chemical messages follow growth cones through a tangled web of other axons to arrive at their final destination and connect different areas of the brain. Genes that encode the molecules that guide the growth codes somehow go awry and miss the pathway they are supposed to be following. This mis-wiring is likely the cause of autism, Parkinson's disease, and perhaps other disorders. During development, as different areas of the brain are wired up, the infant then displays new behaviors. Around age four, the majority of the connections are made and there is a die of neurons. The wiring process continues throughout life, but at a much much lower rate. Hence the importance of early intervention. I think that early intervention, especially with ABA, rewires the brain and improves the behavior of the child with autism. Studies support the improvement of children with autism following ABA but do not specify the mechanism.

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