ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
CANCER
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
CAREGIVING
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
Run for Your Life
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Add your Article

Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism

FRIDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- The most commonly used test to measure intelligence is underestimating the intellectual potential of autistic people, new research suggests.

People with autism often struggle with the verbal portions of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, the test most often used to measure IQ, researchers said.

But when given another test of abstract reasoning abilities, the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices, autistic people not only had scores equal to those of their non-autistic counterparts, but they answered the questions, on average, as much as 42 percent more quickly.

On the Raven's test, autistic participants scored, on average, 30 percentage points higher than would have been predicted by their scores on the Wechsler scale, according to the study, in the June issue of Human Brain Mapping.

Also, MRIs done during the testing showed that autistic people had more activity in different areas of their brains than those without autism.

"While both groups performed Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) test with equal accuracy, the autistic group responded more quickly and appeared to use perceptual regions of the brain to accelerate problem solving," said Isabelle Soulieres, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and the study's lead author. "Some critics argued that autistics would be unable to complete the RSPM because of its complexity, yet our study shows autistics complete it as efficiently and have a more highly developed perception than non-autistics."

The researchers said the findings have implications for the way in which autistic children are educated.

"When we do the Wechsler test, which is the one that is done in clinical settings, there is a big chance that we underestimate the education potential of autistics," Soulieres said. "If you underestimate someone's potential, you will have less hope and you will lower your goals for this person. We should make the bet they are more intelligent than they show us on the Wechsler test."

For the study, 15 autistic people ages 14 to 36 were matched with 18 people without autism. Based on their preliminary results on the Wechsler test, all participants had an IQ between 81 and 131, or generally between the low and high end of the normal range.

Each participant was then given the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices, a 60-item test of abstract reasoning ability. The questions, which are highly visual in nature, ask participants to identify the next sequence of a larger pattern or the missing segment of complex geometric shapes.

During the test, MRIs indicated that people with autism showed more activity in the left cuneus, a region of the brain's occipital cortex thought to be involved with updating working memory and making comparisons among visual images, according to the study.

Compared with people without autism, autistic people showed less activity in areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain that are thought to be involved in manipulation and integration of information in working memory, managing difficult tasks and evaluating the correctness of responses.

When it came to their answers, those with and without autism who scored the same on the Wechsler test also had similar scores on the Raven's test. But those with autism answered figural questions 23 percent more quickly and analytic questions 42 percent more quickly.

"This study bolsters our previous findings and should help educators capitalize on the intellectual abilities of autistics," said senior researcher Dr. Laurent Mottron, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal. "The limits of autistics should constantly be pushed, and their educational materials should never be simplified."

Autism is marked by repetitive behaviors, problems with verbal or non-verbal communication and social difficulties. Because the condition has a wide range of symptoms and degrees of severity, autism is now often referred to as autism spectrum disorders, said Brenda Smith Myles, chief of programs for the Autism Society of America.

Previously, many experts believed that as many as 70 percent of people with autism also had cognitive and other learning disabilities. But recently, researchers have been finding that perhaps only half do, Myles said.

Studies such as this one show that people with autism are able to problem solve and that visual learning might be more helpful than auditory or language-based learning.

Still, she said, there's a need for more studies to assess how best to put such knowledge into practice in the real world to help autistic people succeed in school and employment.

"What we need are more studies that take this information and apply it in a classroom or community setting," Myles said. "This does not tell us what a child will do in a third-grade classroom or what an adult will do in a workplace."

SOURCES: Isabelle Soulieres, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University, Boston; Laurent Mottron, M.D., Ph.D., professor, psychiatry, University of Montreal; Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D., chief of programs, Autism Society of America; June 2009, Human Brain Mapping