Stanford neurologist Dr. Michael Shulman is leading the way in the fight against the neurological disease, which is affecting more than 6 million Americans and costing $1.2 trillion.
He has been using advanced brain imaging technology to show that when you have the right brain activity in the right areas of the brain, the symptoms of the disease are reduced.
Shulmans brain scan can tell doctors about areas of brain activity that may be affected by the disease.
“I would say it’s the best evidence we have of brain-based treatment for autism,” he said.
Shuls has been researching his treatment in the Palo Alto, California, suburb of Redwood City, where he is also a professor of neurology.
It is a difficult disease, one of the leading causes of death in children under age five, but it is also relatively rare.
Most of the people with autism have had a stroke or a head injury, but Shulmann said there are many other potential causes.
“You have the genetic element that can make it hard to treat,” he explained.
“So you have a lot of risk factors and so it’s really important that the brain is treated with the right kind of therapies and treatments.”
Dr. Shula has been able to use a combination of the types of brain imaging he uses, which he says has improved his patients’ quality of life.
The treatment has helped his patients reduce symptoms of autism by a third, according to his latest study, published in The Lancet.
“The data that we have now are very encouraging,” Shulmen said.
“We have seen a reduction in the number of symptoms of some of the most common symptoms of [autism] in the most severe cases.”
Dr Shulmings results are in line with other researchers, who have shown that people with the brain abnormalities of autism have increased risk of developing the disease, Shulmines neurologist.
Dr Shuls new study was published in the journal Neurosurgery.
Dr. Schulman, the father of autism, said the research was important because he wanted to better understand how to treat autism in people who had not yet developed it.
“Autism is a complex disease,” he told CNN.
“When it comes to diagnosis, we have not really gotten to the root of the problem yet.”
He said the technology could eventually allow people with mild to moderate autism to be treated.
“If we can get people to go from mild to severe, we could potentially be able to stop this disease,” Shula said.
Drs Shulmins studies with the Stanford Neuroimaging Lab and Shulmons brain scans show that the more activity there is in the brain in one area of the body, the better the treatment will be.
“This is an extremely promising new avenue of research that will allow us to better target specific areas of our brains and target the brain regions that we know to be at risk,” Dr Shula explained.
He said he hopes the research will eventually lead to more effective treatments for autism.
“There are so many patients in the United States with this condition who don’t have any treatment, but we think we can use the new technology to help them get better,” he added.
“Our hope is that eventually, we can reduce the incidence of autism in the U.S. to a point where there’s a small percentage of the population that is diagnosed with the disease.”
Shuls studies show that, for every 10 to 15 minutes the brain receives activity, the severity of symptoms declines by 10 to 20 percent.
Shulims new study, and his own studies, showed that a person with autism who has had a scan before, will have a 40 percent reduction in symptoms.
He also said his scans showed that his patients with the most brain activity, had reduced symptoms by 40 percent.
Dr Schulmans studies showed that the most significant brain-activity reduction was seen in people with brain abnormalities that affect how they process sensory information.
“For example, people with a deficit in their motor coordination might have problems processing what’s happening to them when they hear the music,” Dr Schula explained to CNN.
His research shows that people who have brain abnormalities, which cause difficulty in processing sensory information, might be more likely to develop the condition.
Dr Sula said his research also showed that, if the brain’s activity were increased in the brains of people with an ASD, their brain activity would increase by 25 percent.
“Even people who don and can’t be on any medications have a high amount of activity in their brain, so it seems like there are things we can do,” he concluded.
“But we need to go further and start to find out what’s going on there.”
Dr Schulls research has been published in Neurology, and is available at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/abstract/DR111638.html