I am a teacher. One of my parents told me their child had been diagnosed as having too much white matter, or having white matter where he should have grey matter. They seemed really confused, and I have very limited knowledge about what that would indicate. I have advised them to go back to Children's Hospital (Milwaukee, WI) - but they feel the doctors don't explain things to them (they have some learning challenges themselves). I am willing to go with them to their appointment - but would like to have some information ahead of time. Any thing you could tell me would help. The boy has already been diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. Are there questions I should ask at the appointment? Are there things I should understand about white matter vs. grey matter before going? I appreciate any input!
I would like to explain the white matter/ grey matter concept. It could be compared with a bunch of tulips. If you have some 20 - 25 tulips as a bunch, the flowers on the outside are the outer layer, while the stems of the tulips form the inner mass of the bunch. Each flower in the outer layer has its stem in the inner mass.
In the brain, the outer layer is the grey matter, while the inner mass is the white matter. Each neuronal cell in the grey matter has a corresponding axonal tail in the white matter.
The structure of the brain is not so simple, but this is the general basic model.
Autism spectrum disorders have been reported to show some amount of the grey matter atrophy (loss of cells).
You can ask the Neurologist about the various cognitive abilities of the child affected by the disorder.
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