Dr. Merzenich Autism Research
Investigating the Origins of Autism
Dr. Michael Merzenich’s autism studies have shed new light on this surge in autism births that now affects one in 140 babies. Dr. Merzenich, founder of Fast ForWord, has a theory that a genetic predisposition is being converted into autism in increasing numbers due to environmental factors that are on the rise.
To explain the growth in autism, Merzenich theorizes that any genetic factor that causes autism must have three qualities:
1. Increasing in human environments
2. Widely distributed on the planet
3. Collectively powerful in their impacts
Merzenich has identified three environmental factors that meet these criteria:
1. Acoustic, visual and other environmental “noise”
2. Chemical toxins, PCB and related PBDEs
3. Repeated ultrasound procedures
Michael Merzenich’s autism research is investigating these and other factors. He is also studying the continued strong co-inheritance of autism by identical twins. Environmental factors that increase the level of pathology to convert children who would not earlier be identified as autistic to kids who now meet the autism diagnostic criteria must be very reliably shared (at least almost always, by both twins) in their local environment. It’s another promising clue.
Autism Research and Fast ForWord
Fast ForWord software, co-founded by Dr. Merzenich, is a fast growing treatment for autism for two key reasons:
- It targets processing skills, arguably the defining weakness in children on the autism spectrum.
- It is adaptive, meaning students move at their own pace. This is particularly helpful in getting autistic children engaged and working productively.
Evidence of success in a growing number of formal studies are encouraging the use of Fast ForWord for autism.