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ASD and Peripheral Nerves

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Often, the impairment in brain development is discussed in scientific literature, however, a study conducted by Sung-Tsang Hsieh, M.D., Ph.D., of National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei who is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, suggests that there is an involvement of the peripheral nervous system as well in around 70 % patients with the diagnosis of ASD.

Peripheral nerves control our sensation of touch, pain and temperature and in ASD patients this response may either be increased (e.g. slightest touch pay cause pain) or reduced (e. g. no cold sensation in spite of walking in snow covered patch).

This study recruited 32 Taiwanese men with autism and conducted small fiber assessments including skin biopsies to examine for nerve damage. Around 53 percent Autistic men showed decreased nerve density.

  1. Chien YL, Chao CC, Wu SW, Hsueh HW, Chiu YN, Tsai WC, Gau SS, Hsieh ST. Small fiber pathology in autism and clinical implications. Neurology. 2020 Oct 14:10.1212/WNL.0000000000010932. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000010932. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33055277.
  2. American Academy of Neurology. Nerves that sense touch may play role in autism. Oct 2014. Available at - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201014160516.htm