Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can lead to social, behavioral and communication challenges. Detected when signs emerge early in childhood, autism presents lifelong obstacles for the afflicted person — although greater for some than others.

The cause is unknown and no medical test for diagnosis exists, but an IUPUC professor is part of a research team that could bring new information to families of those who are autistic.

Mark Jaime, IUPUC assistant professor of psychology, is working with Chris Hawshaw, a research scientist at Indiana University at Bloomington, to study how autism spectrum disorder can be detected earlier in order to allow more time for treatment and lessen the disorder’s impact. Jaime is studying activity in social areas of the brain to find neurocognitive signs of the disorder, while Hawshaw is researching connections between social behaviors, the brain and body temperature.

Should a method to detect autism earlier be discovered, that would be a huge step forward with diagnosis and treatment.

This is important research, and it speaks well of IUPUC that it has a faculty member involved in such work. The university has grown over the years and added more degree programs — a great benefit to area students. Students also benefit when their professors are at the forefront of vital research or involved in important work on social or cultural issues. That adds to the quality of education students receive.

Jaime is to be commended for his contributions to this research, as is IUPUC for its ability to attract professors such as Jaime that enhance the value of education.