Can a Baby’s Cry Be a Clue to Autism?

Can a Baby’s Cry Be a Clue to Autism?

Screaming Crying Baby

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Researchers have analyzed brain scans and eye movements as harbingers of autism. Now they’re listening
to babies’ cries. Scientists at Brown University
think it’s possible that infants’ early cries might provide a clue to whether
they’re at risk of developing autism, based on a small study they conducted on
about 40 babies. They compared the cries of one group, considered at risk of
autism because they had older siblings with the disorder, to a second low-risk
group. When the babies were six months old, they were videotaped in order to
collect a vocal sampling. At some point during the 45-minute filming, the
infants cried.

Researchers isolated the cries and conducted computerized acoustic analysis
on the recordings to isolate different frequencies. They also separated out the
cries based on whether they were related to pain — if a baby fell in the video, for
example, then started wailing — and compared the two groups’ pain-related

MORE: Older Fathers Linked to Kids’ Autism and Schizophrenia

The 21 at-risk babies had higher-pitched cries that were “low in voicing,”
which translates into a rougher, less clear sound that could indicate their
vocal cords are tenser than infants in the low-risk group. What’s more, the
three babies with the highest-pitched cries went on to receive an autism
diagnosis, according to the study published in Autism Research.

The findings, however, shouldn’t lead parents to start assessing their
babies’ cries, says lead author Stephen Sheinkopf, a psychologist at the Brown
Center for the Study of Children at Risk. “We definitely don’t want parents to
be anxiously listening to their babies cry,” says Sheinkopf, who points out that
the differences in cries were detected by sophisticated technology and not
people. “It’s unclear if the human ear is sensitive enough to detect this.”

MORE: Brain Imaging Could Detect Autism in Infants As Young as Six

What is clear is that the findings are intriguing enough to warrant
follow-up, particularly since it’s so difficult to find indicators of autism in
very young children. In most cases, diagnoses aren’t made before age 2 or so
since the classic symptoms of autism — social deficits, difficulty interacting
and communicating with others — can be hard to spot before then.

Linking cries with risk of autism is not an association drawn from left
field, however; cries, in general, have been correlated with brain development. Babies who are born
premature or have suffered birth trauma tend to have higher-pitched cries, while
those with Down syndrome
often make weaker, lower-pitched sounds. Older children with autism often make
atypical sounds — more sing-songy, for example— and researchers wondered whether
it might be possible to observe unusual sounds in infants at risk of autism.
“Cries are clues to what’s going on neurologically, but they hadn’t been looked
at in relation to autism,” says Sheinkopf.

MORE: Siblings of Autistic Kids Show Similar Brain Activity

Finding clues in infancy could have a significant impact on children who are
affected by autism. “Autism seems to be a disorder that starts subtle and
magnifies with age,” says Sheinkopf. Studies consistently show that early intervention with
behavioral therapies can help to lessen or even reverse some of the
developmental symptoms. And diagnosing the disorder as early as possible could
enable these strategies to begin even sooner.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance offers the following advice for children/young people and parents:

The Anti-Bullying Alliance offers the following advice for children/young people and parents:

Bullying is not your fault. It is always wrong and you do not have to put up with it.

Let someone know what is happening as soon as possible. Talk things through with a friend, your family, or your teachers.
Do not do or say anything in response to the bully. Stay calm and remove yourself from the situation wherever possible. If it is happening through your phone or the internet, keep a copy of the messages or images but do not reply or respond.
Keep a note or a diary of what is happening.
Be confident – you have done nothing to deserve this.
Be assertive.
You could say ‘This is not funny. This is bullying. This is wrong.’
Think who can help you – young people or adults.
Seek help from other young people e.g. school might have a peer mentor or buddy scheme
Say to someone ‘Please would you watch what is happening here’ and ask them to help you report the incident.
Sometimes it can help to talk to someone outside of the situation. You could call Childline on 0800 1111.



Help for Parents.

If you think your child is being bullied, don’t panic- try to keep an open mind:Your key role is listening, calming and providing reassurance that the situation can get better when action is taken. Provide a quiet, calm place where they can talk about what is happening.
Listen and reassure them that coming to you was the right thing to do:It may not be easy for a child to talk about being bullied so it is important to try to find out how they are feeling, what has happened, when and where. Though at this stage it is not so much about establishing a set of facts as encouraging, talking and listening.
Assure them that the bullying is not their fault and that you are there to support them: remind them that they can also have the support of family and friends.
Find out what the child or young person wants to happen:help them to identify the choices available to them and the potential next steps to take; and the skills they may have to help solve the problems.
Discuss the situation with your child’s school: the law requires all schools to have a behaviour policy which sets out the measures that will be taken to encourage good behaviour and respect for others and to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.Parents can get advice and support from the Family Lives Parentline on 0808 800 2222 or at Autism Helpline number 07710 597457

Autism got Talent 2013

Autism got Talent 2013

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The research shows that more than a quarter of
11-16 year olds (27.3 %) have quit an activity they enjoy because of
bullying, and almost half (49.5%) have played down a talent for fear of
being bullied – rising to 53% amongst girls.

Despite the popularity of programmes like X-Factor, and Great Britain’s
achievements in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, many children are
scared to excel with 11% having stopped singing, 8% drama and 9%
dancing. 8% have even quit sport for fear of being bullied.

Achievement in crucial academic subjects is also being stifled with 1 in
10 (12%) children saying they have played down their ability in
science. Maths is also taking a hit, with almost 1 in 5 girls (18.8%)
and more than 1 in 10 boys (11.4%) deliberately underachieving to evade

Nearly half of the performers who took part in Autism got Talent this year have been in bullied in school or within the Community and turned to Performing Arts to help them get through their awful experiences.
We at Anna Kennedy Online are looking for talented children and adults with an autism spectrum condition to partcipate in next years show on May 11th 2013 at Mermaid Theatre London. Please contact Lisa Robins for further information on 01895 619734 or

Royal reward for inspirational mother

Royal reward for inspirational mother

Mrs Anna Kennedy from Uxbridge is made an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
Mrs Anna Kennedy from Uxbridge is made an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

Kennedy from Hillingdon was at Buckingham Palace to receive an OBE from
the Queen for her campaigning work to help children and adults with autism for over 15 years.

When she couldn’t get school places for her two sons in 1999, she set up
Hillingdon Manor School, a specialist primary for children with
autistic spectrum disorders. Since then, she’s won a host of awards and
has written a book about her struggle to get a good education for her

Please see link for further information and on how Anna received an invitation from a Hollywood Starlet

First, Autism had talent……but then it got the cold ‘Fremantle’ shoulder!

First, Autism had talent……but then it got the cold ‘Fremantle’ shoulder!

A number of our great supporters and followers will be aware of a ‘situation’ we have been dealing with this week. Hopefuly the following will explain a little of what has been going on.



When we started our journey into promoting Autistic performers, of all talents, and showing just how great they really are we knew there would be obstacles to face. All of those obstacles we were prepared to take on and overcome because the positive reward in raising the self esteem of those too often ignored and pushed to one side outweighed everything else. Not only would performers feel stronger and more confident in life from showing how capable they really are but also the hopes of families touched by autism would feel a positive boost to know that so much more was possible than they maybe previously realised.


Financial issues could be overcome……Santa clauses were dispatched to run around Greenwich Park for sponsorship. Fundraising was done and books were sold. Challenges around Autism itself could be overcome……A tight team was brought together to make sure that leading up to the event and on the day ‘Autism’ was King and the correct environment was set. Finding an audience??…..Easy! our friends far and wide spread the word and the numbers grew.


For the rest of this story please click on the link: