Chapter 3 – Autism and Genetics
Right now, genetics seem the only real connection for a cause and effect in regards to autism. Genetic research is being done right now and the call for research from the National Autistic Society is desperate. They are willing to look at any research in the realm of genetics and autism, and will help correlate future research with what they have in their archives now. There are some promising breakthroughs, but there is not enough evidence to support a grounded theory. The only general theme that has been found is that there is a genetic link between close relatives and the sufferers of autism.
The need for medical breakthroughs is intense, yet the search for a specific gene causing autism has uncovered little. See this article for further information
The search for the specific gene that causes this link is not under study. The Collaborative Autism Project and the International Genetic Study have been studying chromosomes that might have an influence on whether a child is autistic or not. This sounds difficult, but researchers are not even sure that it is just one gene that causes autism. If more than one gene affects autism outcomes, then even though the chance of finding one of those genes is statistically greater, the excitement and following research may ignore the others. Both research facilities have come to one conclusion, but it is a weak one at best. They believe that the gene might be found in chromosome 7 of our genetic makeup. This means they have found a possible haystack, and now they have to look for the needle.
Dr. Michael Dougherty of the American Institute of Biological Sciences argues the pure genetic cause theory. He thinks that there is a combination between both genetics and environmental factors. This could be true because outside environmental changes affect both phenotypical and genotypical characteristics of an organism. He believes that chromosome 12 is the main culprit to the genetic side of autism. If a child receives two mutated copies of this chromosome the amino acids that are a part of food proteins cannot be broken down. This would lead to a mutation in the development of the brain and particularly the part of the brain that controls communication and social skills. He adds that the presence of phenylketonuria may call another malfunction of the brain that produces behavior that will be diagnosed as autism. Since the PKU can be detected at birth and when detected, a special diet thwarts the negative side effects; both PKU and genetics have dual roles in the creation of autism.
Special Insight —>
Temple Grandin Speaks on Autism
The collaboration to find data and share research on autism is still in its infancy. The collaboration process between researchers only began in 1996. This means only a decade has been dedicated to finding the source of the disorder. The gene mapping projects that have fascinated researchers for years have yielded results to the cause and some cures of many diseases since it has begun. This give hopes to people who have autistic children and also hope to prospective parents who think that might be predisposed to the gene. Remember though, if the gene is found it is only a step to the cure. The gene’s discovery will only allow the medical community to let parents know they have a predisposition before pregnancy and once pregnant the disorder has a good chance of occurring. Only time and patience will be needed to find both the cause and the cure of this disturbing disorder. All the parents can do for their child that has the disorder is to love them and give them the quality of life that they deserve. As with all diseases, autism will someday be a thing of the past.