It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There are lights everywhere, people are crowding stores to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones, there are cookies to bake, family to visit and holiday cheer all around. I’m not kidding at all — I would love if we could make “Christmas season” last all year round. That being said, Christmas can also be an extremely difficult time for kids and adults with autism. There are lots of aspects of the holiday that don’t make for a very autism-friendly Christmas.

The lights, smells, crowds and all of the things that we love about Christmas can be extremely overwhelming to someone who struggles with sensory input. Even something as simple as visiting family for Christmas dinner can be overstimulating and downright painful to someone with autism. So what should we do? Hiding away from November to January isn’t really an option, and we shouldn’t take away the joy and celebration of Christmas just because it’s hard for our kids to participate like others.

This is where hosting an autism-friendly Christmas comes in! This post will be especially helpful to family members who aren’t quite sure how to help a child with autism who will be visiting them for the holiday. It can be really difficult for extended family to understand the complexities of autism. They honestly want to make the kids in their family feel comfortable and safe, but it can be hard to know how to do that practically. That’s why I decided to put together this handy little guide to an autism-friendly Christmas.

First things first: ask ahead.

This one is probably the most important suggestion in this entire post. Ask the parents, or the child if you’re able, how you can help them with the holiday. Maybe they need to arrive before everyone else to transition into the new environment before there are crowds of people there. Maybe they need you to take pictures of different areas of your home so they can explain them to their child ahead of time. The possibilities are really endless. Mothers with autistic kids will come up with the most creative ways to help their child have the best possible time. Trust me: just ask her and she’ll have a few suggestions for your autism-friendly Christmas.

Consider the food.

With my son, one of the biggest struggles of going somewhere else during the holidays is making sure there will be something he can eat. Veggies are out, and noodles, mashed potatoes are petrifying, the only acceptable meat is frozen chicken nuggets and he’s hungry all the time. That doesn’t make it easy to head to families’ houses for the holidays. We bring lots of snacks (crackers, chips, etc.) and we try to find him something from the meal he can tolerate, which is often rolls.

Now, I can’t tell you what foods will be considered “safe” for your family member with autism, so go back to point one and ask ahead! I know preparing the food is one of the most stressful parts of hosting Christmas, and we don’t want to put more of a burden on you. That said, hosting an autism-friendly Christmas could be as simple as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or microwaving some chicken nuggets. Trust me, your family members will appreciate the effort!

Be flexible with expectations.

We often have expectations of how the holidays will go that we don’t even stop to think about. The kids will get there and give hugs and kisses to all the grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles, then they’ll run off and start happily playing with their cousins. When it’s time to open presents there will be tons of excitement and joy as the kids all happily rip off the paper to see what goodies are inside.

These expectations may be way off base when you’re considering a child with autism. Letting a child with autism set the pace for certain interactions is going to mean less meltdowns and less headache for everyone. Maybe they’ll give high fives to family instead of a hug, or maybe they just need their space. Try to be OK with whatever way they show affection, or even if you can’t tell they’re showing it at all. Opening presents in a house full of excited kids can be oversimulating for everyone, let alone kids with autism. Your autism-friendly Christmas may include the child opening presents one at a time slowly over the night and not in one chaotic free-for-all.

Have a sensory retreat.

I am not suggesting that you have a full-blown sensory room prepared for your family member with autism to hide away in, though that would be awesome! But designating a space where the kid can hide away for a bit and regulate his sensory system is vital for having a happy, autism-friendly Christmas.

Maybe this simply means that you close off your bedroom so they have a quiet space to themselves when they get overwhelmed. Maybe you set up a quick sensory bin to help them calm down. Even something as simple as a comfy chair away from the chaos with a phone and some headphones can help a child with autism calm down and enjoy the holiday. Again, just ask the parents or the child what they think will help. They’ll probably even bring along a weighted blanket or some noise-canceling headphones to help out.

Explain autism to other family members (especially kids).

Autism isn’t always the easiest thing to understand. First off, it is a huge spectrum, so it’s hard to know what to expect. Maybe your family member will only struggle to make eye contact, or maybe they’re completely nonverbal. Either way, it’s still autism.

It can also be really difficult for kids to understand because kids tend to think in black and white. Often, other kids in the family will think the child with autism is being favored or is simply naughty. It’s really important to explain to kids in an age-appropriate way that their cousin’s brain works differently, so they can’t always do things the same way other kids can. Sometimes they don’t share toys, sometimes they don’t eat the same foods and sometimes they don’t answer questions. All of that is OK because we’re all different, and that’s what makes us special. Trust me, you’ll end plenty of fights by helping the other kids understand why one of them gets chicken nuggets while they have to eat their veggies!

Overall, be loving.

Having an autism-friendly Christmas can seem difficult, but the changes needed will have a small impact on the host. They will have a huge impact, however, for a child with autism and their family. We often spend half of our family holidays apologizing for one thing or another, handling meltdowns or intervening in arguments. The other half is spent trying to enjoy our holiday (and maybe grab a bite to eat) while stressing about when we will need to start apologizing, handling and intervening again. Making some small changes and putting forth a bit of effort into hosting an autism-friendly Christmas is one of the best ways to show your family that you care this year.

Let them know you love your family member with autism and want to help however you can. To me, that’s the spirit of Christmas.

Follow this journey at This Outnumbered Mama.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness during the holidays. What would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


I don’t always want to talk about difficulties. I don’t believe it’s beneficial to focus on negatives constantly. But I also believe we live in a society that attributes powerlessness and weakness to vulnerability, and I would like to dismiss that myth.

One of the biggest challenges I face as an adult on the spectrum lies within the realm of my parenting duties. Not so much the act of parenting itself so to speak, but more so living up to my children’s expectations in regards to what society says a parent is supposed to look like.

I have tried, with what I believe to be an enormous amount of effort, to instill certain beliefs in my children, one of which is that everybody is different, including parents. I think they understand to a degree, but I do believe there remains a frame outside their general understanding they have yet to reach.

The reason I say this is because in as much as I believe they truly love me as I am, I also believe sometimes my differences frighten them. I’m not talking about the kind of fear that comes with aliens or monsters. I’m talking about the kind of fear that comes with feeling alone and uncertain. I don’t think they know how to say it, but I can see it in their eyes sometimes. It’s a feeling that I am all too familiar with. The times when they should be able to believe, beyond the shadow of doubt, that they can lean on me aren’t always as simple as they should be.

Parents — as a general rule in story books, television and mainstream society — are deemed fearless. Unafraid with an infinite amount of bravery. And even during the times when they don’t have these traits, they still pretend to.

But what if a parent was afraid? What if, in addition, they were completely incapable of hiding their fear? What happens then? Well, let me tell you.

Emily Klein.3-001

My 14-year-old is an athlete. She is exceptionally talented, witty, intelligent and wise beyond her years. She is my compass in most social situations when I feel uncertain. I am eternally grateful to have been blessed with such an amazing kid. She has been playing with the same soccer team for about six years now. It is a top level that participates in many out-of-state events that require travel and frequent overnight hotel stays. It’s probably one of her favorite things about the team. She has a fancy for all things, well, fancy. I’ll add in here that this type of fancy also happens to be my least favorite part of the whole experience.

I have severe anxiety when it comes to changes in routine, leaving home, not sleeping in my bed, hotels and bugs. I have up until this point forced myself to submit to these trips. Taking down myself and everyone around me in the process between the pressure and the punishment for not being able to handle it. I have tried to make adjustments: car-pooling, sharing rooms, sending her up with teammates, canceling at the last minute and even just trekking it alone with her while putting myself in a compromised state physically and emotionally.

The reality is this the amount of anxiety traveling creates for me is overwhelming. If I can’t go and come home the same day, I can’t go. It’s as simple as that. I have accepted that this is a part of who I am. Not that I have succumb to the fears and refuse to overcome them. This is different. This is the way my brain is wired, and rather than attempt to change something biologically certain in my DNA, I have decided to work towards a more attainable goal of working around it.

This weekend we are set to play in Jersey. Initially, I booked a room and invited a friend to come along for moral support. Then I checked the reviews, which had multiple reports of, uhm, bugs. Reservations canceled. I researched other hotels but found nothing. I made the decision that we will go and come home both days. She gets to play, and I feel safe. It’s all about compromise, right?

Well, sitting across from my daughter at the dinner table as I broke the news proved to say otherwise. If I said she was pissed, it would be an understatement.

Part of me was angry. How could she not be more considerate of my feelings? Hadn’t I raised her better than that? Of course I had, but this was one of those things I spoke of earlier: The things that lie outside of her understanding.

She gets that I am afraid of certain things. She understands. But beyond that lies the extent of my fears and anxiety and the emotional and physical repercussions over having to withstand these anxieties under extreme pressure in the situations that I am expected to perform. She doesn’t know what goes on inside my head. Her comprehension is only as big as her own life experience. And besides, kids shouldn’t have to understand certain things, right? It’s our job as parents to shelter and protect them.

But everything about our life as a family says different.

My children have been exposed to some harsh realities kids twice their age are unaware of yet. I am conflicted over the way it has affected/will affect them. I like to think they are attuned to the world and better prepared for the cold than most. But also, maybe they are missing blissful ignorance that comes with childhood. I don’t really know. Sitting across from her when I broke the news, which I felt was completely rational, it was evident we were not in agreement. She was angry, but underneath that anger I could see disappointment. Disappointment in my ability to measure up.

“Why couldn’t I just deal with it?” was what she seemed to say.

Even further beyond her disappointment, I could see that she resented me for making her feel like she was alone. My fears, my differences and my overall inability to be like the other parents alienates her. I tried to remind her of the times we went away and I was a panicked mess. It just didn’t seem to resonate on a level of understanding I needed it to.

Emily Klein.4-001

I have lost more than a week’s sleep feeling anxious, scared, sad and guilty. I don’t want my children to ever have to carry my weight, but at the same time, I want them to be understanding human beings aware that in every person there are differences. And they should, in the best way they know how, honor and respect these differences. I don’t think people should ever compromise their health or well-being, be it physical or mental for the sake of fitting in, looking normal or to keep someone happy, especially a part of one’s family. I would never want my children to do that, and I can’t teach them to honor themselves and be honest about their feelings if I myself am not.

Part of me is happy she still sometimes thinks like a selfish kid, and that I haven’t forced her to grow up too fast. As she does get older, though, my hope is that my vulnerability and honesty will enable her to understand better and be more likely to deal with the world easier because of her direct exposure to all things uncertain. Parents are afraid, too. We are human just like them. The only difference lies in our direct experience with the world and what we have learned firsthand to be true.

So what happens when a kid finds out their parent is afraid? The kid learns what it means to be honest and doing so sees that it doesn’t make them any less of a person. The power lies inside that truth.

I don’t think anyone has this parenting thing down perfect. I do consider myself lucky to have been blessed with great kids. They may not get it all the time, but they get it. And that’s more than I can say for most grown adults today. I like to think I had a hand in that. Until next time, stay weird.

Follow this journey on Awkward Is Awesome. A View From the Spectrum.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

It’s that festive time of year where I insist my family sticks to all the traditions of years gone by, regardless of how old the kids have become or how horrific the tradition was last year. How quickly one forgets the swearing and cursing with each little hoof as we wander aimlessly searching for the perfect Christmas tree. Well, this year was no different. And after the tree was cut down, dragged to the car, rigged up in the family room (more swearing) and trimmed with ornaments of Christmas’ past, we made a solemn promise (through more swearing) that we will not do that again next year. Until next year rolls around, of course.

One tradition we all still love (I swear, it’s not just in my mind) is watching all of our favorite holiday movies. “The Grinch,” “Christmas Vacation,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Bad Santa” (that one is for Mom and Dad only) and our all time favorite, “The Polar Express” — the magical movie that makes us all want to believe.

“The Polar Express” was dug out of the Christmas movie archives and watched on Friday night.

As we all snuggle in under our blankets with the glow of the Christmas tree lights and the warmth of the fire, I think regardless of age, regardless of time, regardless of how many lights have burned out on that glorious traditional Christmas tree, in those two hours, each and every one of us does indeed believe. Believing is good for the soul.

We ask that children believe in Santa, believe in flying reindeer and believe in a magical train ride to the North Pole, all things they can’t see, and yet, they do. You know why? Children believe with their hearts. They don’t have to see to believe. “The most real things in the world are the things we can’t see,” said the Polar Express conductor and sadly, just days after watching and believing, I watched a different video that showed me sometimes even when I did see, I didn’t believe.

After a night out celebrating one of our dear friend’s birthday and a quick stop at another friend’s Christmas party, my husband Dan and I decided to throw in a DVD of some of our home movies at 10:45 p.m.. It was the highlight of my week.

Yes, there was a lot of nostalgic tears and the astonishment of why I ever wore my hair that way, but, mostly I sat mesmerized by this face. In the videos, my son Ryan was 3, not yet diagnosed with autism, but, both speech and OT services were in place for “developmental delays.”

While watching the videos, I certainly saw some of what concerned me back then. The brief eye contact, the looking out of the corner of his eyes, the scripting of the entire “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” video (which was freaking hysterical) and the way he was the only child in his daycare Christmas play sitting down, falling down and wandering around the stage. I saw in the videos glimpses of what was “different.”

But what amazed me, awenestly, what shocked me, was how in most ways he looked the “same.” The way he chased the dog, the way he asked for “another present for RyRy,” the way he followed his brother, the way he told us every shape of all the Christmas cookies he was baking with messy flour-covered hands and the way he ran to me, smiling from ear to ear after his daycare Christmas show and jumped into my arms with the most beautiful, heartfelt “Mommy!”

It was almost 1 a.m., and I couldn’t stop watching these videos. My husband was snoring loudly, and my daughter Emma was sound asleep with the glow of the Christmas lights shining on her face. I was alone with only these video images running through my brain, and the stark realization that at the magical, glorious age of 3, words like “developmental delay,” “sensory processing disorder” and “the A-word” were constantly at the forefront of my brain, blocking me from seeing and believing. This brain block caused me to focus on all I felt was “wrong,” blinding me to all that was “right”.

Ryan was funny, brilliant, snuggly, loving, rambunctious, beautiful and perfect, and I hate that I had to see that on a home movie. I hate that all those years ago, I did not see or believe… in him. Years later, through the lens of a camcorder I saw more that was the “same” than was “different.” I’m just sorry I didn’t see it with my own two eyes and believe with my heart as it was happening before me 11 years ago.

Ryan was, is and always will be awesome, and as I watched a much younger mom (with a horrific hairstyle) snuggle him, praise him, cheer for him and love him, I think even through my concern and fear, I always believed that, even though sometimes I failed to see it.

Sometimes you really do have to see to believe, and other times even seeing doesn’t help you believe. I guess that’s why believing… really, truly believing, has to come from your heart. Maybe back then, my heart was just too scared to believe what and who was right in front of me. Back in those days when the fear in my brain blocked the belief in my heart, I did in fact believe that “different” meant less. I worried that “different” stood out more than “same” and that “different” would always cause my heart to fear believing.

My hairstyle is better now, and my heart has certainly made a turn for the best. I am no longer a doubter, and every time I see my boy sing, every time I read a paper he has written for school and every time he almost knocks me down with his back pounding hugs, I hear “the bell ring.. .as it does for all who truly believe.”

Yes, I believe.

Christmas boys

I know, Christmas is a week away and Hanukkah has come and gone. But maybe you’re a procrastinator, too, and this list will still be useful. Even if it’s too late for the holiday season, there’s got to be a birthday coming up. I am willing to bet that sometime between now and 364 days from now, you will be looking for a gift and then you’ll be happy you read this.

The other day my friend Sarah showed me the wish list she created on Amazon. She has a daughter with special needs who doesn’t really like to play with toys. A lot of kids like hers (and mine) don’t. Our conversation reminded me of when my son was younger and didn’t want anything to do with toys and he couldn’t sit still for a board game. He was really, really, really hard to shop for. There were times when we’d wrap socks or underwear or other things he needed because he got the most joy from just unwrapping things.

Although my son now enjoys a growing number of toys, it’s still hard to come up with gift ideas for him because he gets frustrated with things that are hard to play with and he is always losing pieces. When people ask what he wants for his birthday, it’s still a difficult question to answer. You can only tell so many people to get him things that light up.

So what do you get a kid who doesn’t play with toys? Here are a number of suggestions.

Toys They Can Watch

My husband is really into Quadcopters, and the kids love watching him fly them. These remote control flying devices range in size and price and, I have to admit, they are fun to watch fly, especially when they get stuck in a tree (shh, don’t tell my husband I said that). You can get a mini one for around $20.

Disco balls and aquarium lamps are fun to watch and calming, too. Several years ago we gave out disco balls to all the kids who came to my son’s birthday party. It was by far the most popular goodie bag item we’ve ever presented. We got the disco balls for $5 each at a dollar store. They now start at $15 online. Aquarium lamps start at around $25.

There was a summer where we had three different Gazillion Bubbles hurricane machines. We used the bubble-blowing machine so much that we had to replace it a few times. The self-blowing bubble maker generates more bubbles than anything we’ve ever seen. The only downside was the number of times we had to buy new one.

aquarium collage

Cause and Effect

Kids, particularly with autism, like to see action and reaction. My favorite toy in this category is the Stomp Rocket. There was a time when we had a closet full of them to give as gifts. The kids love stomping the “launch pad” and watching a foam rocket soar into the air. Not only is it fun for them to see how high it gets, it also helps with gross motor skills.

The Hoberman Sphere has always been on my personal wish list. It’s a simple circle that contracts and expands by pushing and pulling. When my kids get their hands on one, they can’t seem to get enough of it.

Other great cause-and-effect items are the Gyro Wheel (especially ones that light up) and the Toysmith Liquid Motion Bubbler, which you flip over to watch the liquid elements inside float serenely to the bottom. The box even says, “This is not a toy,” so it’s sure to please your non-toy kid.

Sensory Gifts

Thousands and thousands of sensory tools that are fun for kids are for sale (an Amazon search for “sensory toys” yields almost 10,000 results). There are far too many good ones to list here, but two I’d put on my on my wish list are:

The Cozy Canoe is an inflatable canoe that offers deep pressure for those sitting inside it. It’s a great place to read, play or chill (it’s also hard to find right now).

A pack of Stress Balls and Squeeze Toys Value Assortment (21 Pack), because you can never have too many “fidget” toys. Kids love the feel of these squishy rubber items, and I like that you can get 21 of them for less than $25.

Items for Active Kids

A good occupational therapy (OT) gym can be a kid’s nirvana. Between the ball pit, swings, trampoline and rock wall, there is so much to do at OT. A lot of families I know try to recreate the OT gym at home. Trampolines — from mini-exercise versions to full-size, outdoor trampolines — are especially popular. Indoor swings are also great. Just be sure to get the right mounting/hanging gear. We ordered ours from Southpaw. All my kids — and their friends — love being able to swing indoors. We have our swing mounted on our basement ceiling, but there are also swings that attach to doorways or that you can attach to a free-standing base. A kiddie pool and a few bags of colorful plastic balls are an easy way to make an indoor ball pit. We’ve never done it, but they are always popular at friends’ houses.

Other Ideas

Consider a personalized picture book. On his sixth birthday, my son got one of these. I created this book on Picaboo, one of a number of online sites that allow users to create photo books. My son’s book is 82 pages of family photos and text, documenting milestones such as birthdays, vacations, the first and last days of school and other yearly traditions.

Something completely outside the box — two years ago, we had absolutely no idea what to get my son. He was obsessed with elevators. We looked for books about elevators and toys that might somehow resemble an elevator. After my son watched a video made by a teen who built his own for the millionth time, I thought it would be cool if my son could have his own elevator control panel. I scoured the Internet, found a local elevator company and e-mailed them to see if they had any suggestions.

Their response: “We actually have a briefcase that you open up and it has a whole panel of buttons that he can push and they light up. It just has to be plugged in. I would be happy to give that to you. We have not used it because we decided not to use that vendor’s panel.”

Places they can go — you can’t wrap classes, tickets or memberships, but any of these would be excellent choices. I have a number of friends who recently started therapeutic horseback riding. One friend gave her son a horseback riding lesson for his birthday. He loved it and now goes weekly. Tickets to shows and concerts (especially sensory-friendly ones) are also great choices, as are zoo or aquarium memberships. When a kid has a passion for animals, just a few trips to the zoo can more than pay for the membership.

Follow this journey on Special Ev.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story about the holiday season related to disability, disease or mental illness. It can be lighthearted or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include an intro for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Autism is a different journey for every family, but there are some common experiences we may share. Here are some of these experiences illustrated with scenes from some of my favorite movies and TV shows.

In case you missed the rest of the series, check out  Autism Parenting Rules 1 – 10 and Autism Parenting Rules 11 – 20.

Here are rules 21 – 35!

21. You may spend so much time and energy keeping your own child clothed that you overlook your own appearance.

Like going to the store looking like The Dude.

Gramercy Pictures/“The Big Lebowski”

22. When a meltdown is imminent, you may do anything to reduce extra sensory input. 

BBC/“Doctor Who”

23. Casual phone conversations are almost impossible.

BBC/“Doctor Who”

24. You suffer a moment of panic every time you see someone using the front burners on the stove. 

Because yours haven’t been used in years.

Columbia Pictures/“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”

25. Kitchen knives are kept hidden in a locked, secure location at all times.

Marvel Studios/“Deadpool”

26. Privacy in the bathroom does not exist. 

This is true for most parents really!

Warner Bros./”Lethal Weapon 2″

27. Autism parents can sweep a room looking for possible threats better than the Secret Service.

NBC/“The West Wing”

28. The concept of age- and gender-appropriate toys is invalid. 

They like what they like.


29. Your child might not like their personal space invaded but has no problem invading anyone else’s.

CBS/“Get Smart”

30. Any assumption others have about your child’s ability is probably wrong.


31. If your child wants to wear a costume outside of Halloween, they’re going to wear a costume. 

We choose our battles!

USA Network/“Psych”

32. Running out of your child’s favorite food may lead to disregard of your own physical appearance in the panic of restocking the item to avoid a meltdown.

NBC / “Chuck”

33. Parent may celebrate after their child uses the potty for its intended use. 

ABC / “Castle”

34. Lines happen. 

And don’t even think about moving them.

AMC/“The Walking Dead”

35. Pants are overrated.

If Sam and Dean Winchester aren’t wearing them, who needs to?


Read the first two parts of this series:

The 10 Autism Parenting Rules I Live By on a Daily Basis

10 More Autism Parenting Rules I Live By Every Day

Follow this journey at Autism Odysseys.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Researchers at Harvard University and MIT have published a new study suggesting a specific chemical in the brain is linked to autism. Their findings, published in Current Biology on Thursday, say autistic behavior is associated with a breakdown in the signaling pathway of a chief inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA.

Scientists speculate that reduced brain inhibition may be behind the hypersensitivity many people with autism experience, according to MIT News.

“This is the first time, in humans, that a neurotransmitter in the brain has been linked to autistic behavior. This theory — that the GABA signaling pathway plays a role in autism — has been shown in animal models, but until now we never had evidence for it actually causing autistic differences in humans,” study leader Caroline Robertson said in a Harvard University press release.

Robertson and her colleagues first tested 21 people ranging on the autism spectrum and 20 non-autistic people by showing them two conflicting images, one to each eye, according to Medical Daily. To focus on one image, the brain must suppress the other, or push it out of awareness. In this “binocular rivalry test,” the adults with autism were slower to suppress visual images. Researchers then measured GABA concentrations while subjects performed the task and found people with autism showed GABA dysfunction.

“Individuals with autism are known to have detail-oriented visual perception — exhibiting remarkable attention to small details in the sensory environment and difficulty filtering out or suppressing irrelevant sensory information,” Robertson said.

The findings suggest a drug that can boost GABA’s action may improve challenges people with autism face.

A question for our Mighty community: How do you respond when new research is published around the causes and/or symptoms of autism? What does news like this mean for your day-to-day life? Let us know in the comments below.

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We face disability, disease and mental illness together.