Social interactions are stressful for children with autism. Severe social deficits are related to greater difficulties with learning, as they may trigger a stress response that can adversely affect the regions of the brain involved in learning.
Dr. Emma Duerden, Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience & Learning Disorders, is working to identify the risk factors for learning difficulties in children with autism. She and her research team are trying to determine the relationships between social deficits, stress responses, alterations in brain development and learning ability in infants and children with autism. Their work will help us better understand how to monitor interventions aimed at minimizing social deficits in children with autism.