autism

Quinn Mason’s been writing music for more than half his life, and he’s only 19. It’s been a life of challenges – he grew up the son of a single mom,  in a tough Dallas neighborhood, and he has Asperger’s syndrome, on the autism spectrum.  Quinn just got back from winning a national composition contest.

Lots of factors may affect a child's odds of ending up with autism. Researchers around the world have been striving to fully understand how biology, genetics and environment play roles.

A huge study that includes data from more than 5.7 million children in five countries might shed some light on how autism develops — but it also raises new questions.

Researchers looked at autism rates among children born between 1985 and 2004 in Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Australia.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

Australia has announced plans to halt welfare payments and child care rebates to families that refuse to have their children vaccinated — an aggressive move aimed at clamping down on a rising number of parents who opt out of immunizations.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday that the government was closing a loophole and would stop payments of up to $11,500 per child (15,000 Australian dollars) for parents who don't get their kids immunized by claiming to be "conscientious objectors."

A new understanding of the brain's cerebellum could lead to new treatments for people with problems caused by some strokes, autism and even schizophrenia.

That's because there's growing evidence that symptoms ranging from difficulty with abstract thinking to emotional instability to psychosis all have links to the cerebellum, says Jeremy Schmahmann, a professor of neurology at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are about to hear from an author who wrote a love letter to a machine. Judith Newman wrote in The New York Times that a talking phone made life easier for her 13-year-old son, Gus, who has autism. Now Judith Newman brings her story to us.

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