Research article by: Khan, Nair, Keown, et. al.
Not only is the autistic brain larger by volume, but it has a connectivity issue: the sensorimotor cortex is over connected to the cerebellum, where as the frontal lobe is under connected. The negative effect would be a decreased ability for higher cognitive functions. But would this lead to increased sensorimotor function? I am certainly not at pediatric therapy expert, but I would lean toward yes. From my understanding, a lot of the autistic kids are sensorimotor input seekers, meaning these are the kids that like the weighted blankets, enjoy vestibular stim and tend to chew on the ends of their pens. So which came first: the neural connections or the input seeking?
What I think the whole thing comes down to is neuroplasticity. One of Kleim’s principles of neuroplasticity is use it or lose it. The neural connections between the cerebellum and sensorimotor cortex have to be used in order to remain and not be pruned away. Then they have to be used A LOT in order to take over space that would be designated for higher cognitive functions, which come on line later in life than the sensorimotor functions. Perhaps since the basic brain volume is also increased, pruning isn’t occurring like it should either.
So maybe autism spectrum disorders has some roots as a disorder of neuroplasticity? Interesting thought. Anyone else like to weigh in?