Researchers in california are doing work that could offer new insight into autism.
They are comparing images of autistic children's brains to those of children who do not have autism, and found a major difference in brain development.
"We found developmental delays in the autistic brains when compared to healthy children," says study author Xue Hua.
Hua and her colleagues discovered that by looking at computerized studies of brain images done on autistic and non-autistic children through adolescence.
A growth map derived from MRIs taken from a child who does not have autism over the course of a number of years and a map of an autistic child shows less and slower growth.
"Those are important for social and language skills. It offers possible explanation why autistic children act and think differently," says Hua.
That understanding may put some parents' minds at ease.
The maps clearly show the difference is chemical or biological, and no one's at fault.
The maps may ultimately lead to the development of new drugs that may help treat or even reverse those symptoms.