Resources for Research & News About Autism

Welcome to Autism Insight, a resource developed by the Barber National Institute for parents and professionals to turn to for reliable information about a wide range of topics relating to autism.

Autism & Violence Rumor Debunked

Since the tragic shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, many news reports have suggested that the young gunman had Asperger Syndrome.  With many questions now being posed about autism, WJET reporter Elizabeth D'Aurora spoke to Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey for accurate information. Click here to view the story. For additional information about autism, please read Maureen's blog at Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of the victims and residents of Newtown, CT. 

Autism Risks for Siblings

Autism risks for siblings are higher than thought. It is widely accepted that early diagnosis of autism is important in making treatment more effective. A new study published this month in Biological Psychiatry suggests that the use of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, may be helpful in finding differences in the brains of children with autism. Click here to read more about this study

Autism risks for siblings are higher than thought. A new study suggests nearly one in five children with an autistic older sibling will develop the disorder too - a rate much higher than previously thought. Researchers followed 664 infants who had at least one older brother or sister with autism. Overall, 132 infants or about 19 percent ended up with an autism diagnosis, too, by their third birthdays. Previous smaller or less diverse studies reported a prevalence of between 3 percent and 14 percent.

Click here for more information (link provided by

Girls with Autism - A Unique Pattern of Challenges

Women and girls with autism often present with a unique set of characteristics that can make diagnosing their autism difficult. Furthermore, their set of strengths can mask their deficits. Because boys are primarily the gender mentioned in the news, it is easy to overlook the fact that girls are on the spectrum too. True, boys represent 4/5 of the autism population but that leaves 20% of the affected, female. With the staggering statistics of autism's rise, that is a significant number of people and probably a conservative figure. Dr. Tony Attwood has identified common characteristics of women and girls on the autism spectrum, especially those with Asperger's Syndrome.

Girls with autism:

  • Often use doll play to replay and understand social situations and often have imaginary friends and extremely detailed imaginary worlds
  • Typically have a single friend who provides guidance and security for them and they tend to offer peer support to others
  • Often observe and try to understand a situation before they make the first step and may mimic or even try to take on all the characteristics of someone they are trying to emulate
  • Read fiction (or watch soap operas) to help them learn about inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations
  • Apologize frequently and want to appease others
  • May be categorized as “tomboys” and tend to have what is classified as a "male brain"
  • They may be specially gifted in the areas of mathematics and engineering
  • Usually, show no interest in fashion
  • Generally, have a faster rate of learning social skills than boys but they may still need to be directly taught certain social skills
  • Tend to have a special interest that is more likely to be unusual in terms of intensity rather than focus
  • May be so successful at "faking it" that they only come to the attention of a clinician when a secondary mood disorder emerges

(Reported courtesy of