Understanding that people with autism have statistically different facial characteristics enables researchers to focus on the underlying causes of autism, Aldridge said. Additionally, the study identified two groups of children with autism who show further distinct facial traits that occur in children with specific characteristics of autism, such as behavior problems, language level and repetitive behaviors. Identifying these subgroups within the group of children with autism allows better study of these children and why autism is so variable.
"This research would not be possible without the children and their families that participated," Aldridge said. "Their help is key to advancing research and helping us better understand autism, and how to develop better treatments. We are also indebted to the University of Missouri's Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders for their support of this project and the care it provides for children with autism and their families in Missouri."
The study was published in Molecular Autism. Aldridge collaborated with Ian George, a graduate student in the School of Medicine; Kimberly Cole, a research technician at the School of Medicine; Jordan Austin, a senior in the College of Arts and Science; T. Nicole Takahashi, project director at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Ye Duan, associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering and the Thompson Center; Judith Miles, professor emerita in the School of Medicine and the Thompson Center. The entire team is affiliated with the Thompson Center. This research was supported by an Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program grant, the Simons Foundation and the Thompson Center Research Scholar Funds.
|Contact: Christian Basi|
University of Missouri-Columbia