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Autism & Brain SPECT

A few words about AUTISM and, its reflection on Brain SPECT :

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disability characterized by impairments in social skills, language and behavior. It is in fact an “autism spectrum” which describes a continuum that reflects the severity of impairments and is also known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Asperger’s Disorder differs from autism in that language and most cognitive functions are preserved, though not communication and social interaction. The incidence of autism has increased during the last decades. Early diagnosis can greatly improve an autistic person’s chances for recovery. The evaluation of autistic children is complicated by the variability of symptoms and by the wide range of comorbidity (co-occurring conditions) which can obscure the diagnosis and thus delay the appropriate treatment. Brain SPECT can be very useful in the evaluation of autism but, given the considerations mentioned above, it is not surprising that for all practical purpose there is no typical pattern for it. On the other hand, because Brain SPECT is able to identify areas of hyper and/ or hypoperfusion (e.g. over-activity or under-activity), it can provide significant help to the Neuropsychiatrist for optimizing the treatment strategy. As is the case in other child & adolescent Neuropsychiatric disorders, treating the comorbidity goes a long way towards improving the quality of life of patient and family.

The combined display in Figure (D), shows five cases of autism with varied co-occurring conditions . As can be seen, in all of them there is evidence of global and / or localized areas of marked / extreme hyperperfusion as well as of some areas of underperfusion.