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Reading and the Brain - Autism Sidebar

Six-year-old Arik Kimber reads so fluently that it’s almost shocking to discover that he has virtually no understanding of what he has just read. Arik has autism, which makes it difficult for him to form relationships with other people -- and the written word.

Renowned child psychiatrist Dr. Stanley Greenspan has been a leader in the study of how emotion affects intelligence, research that is helping develop new therapies for children with autism learn to read better.

“We’ve discovered that our emotional interactions give birth to our ability to use symbols and to think and, eventually, to be reflective,” says Dr. Greenspan in the film. “It’s a radically new way of thinking about how intelligence is formed.”

“The richer your emotional interactions early in life, the more understanding you have of the world, the easier it is, then, to have the words that you’re learning have meaning,” says Dr. Greenspan.

During the process of therapy, Arik’s reading progress is measured by tracking the electrical signals of his brain. “We now have the technology that we can actually map the child’s emotional development against the child’s brain development,” says Dr. Stuart Shanker in “Reading and the Brain.” As Arik’s ability to make emotional connections improves, his reading is improving, too.

“Reading and the Brain” is a new 30-minute television show that will air on PBS stations across the country beginning in fall 2006 (check local listings or visit to watch the show online).

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