Have you ever noticed that when your autistic child is running a fever, they start to act less autistic? They may engage more with you, have improved language and communication, and decreased oppositional or obsessive behaviours.
If you have, you are not alone.
The ‘Fever Effect’, is a well-known phenomenon, whereby behavioural changes occur in autistic children while they are running a temperature. I have witnessed this in my own son, and it is quite dramatic. The heat from the fever modulates a part of the brain, called the locus coeruleus-noradrenergic complex, and this temporarily normalizes brain function. Through observing this phenomenon, scientists are realizing that the autistic brain is more structurally normal (albeit dysregularted) that previously believed. Understanding this may pave the way for new treatment approaches for autism.
It turns out that vigorous exercise, which also heats the body, can have similar effects on improving behavior, although it is not known whether it modulates this same region of the brain in particular.
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