My mom photocopied me an article from our local paper last Thursday about a new study done on autism.
I am always interested on anything they are coming up with because autism is such an unknown which makes it so hard on parents and individuals themselves. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) vary widely in severity. In school we always referred to it as the "autism umbrella" because there are so many disorders that fall on the spectrum. ASD tend to show up as language and social problems in toddlers, and can develop into highly repetitive behaviors, restricted interests and social & communication deficits. Many individuals have serious lifelong disabilities and some are brilliant. I have always said I truly believe everyone has a little autism in them. I think that is what makes us all unique and a little quirky!

There are many famous people that are said to have autism or autistic characteristics. Some of them are: Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Beethoven, Van Gogh, Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Edison. Temple Grandin is pretty popular in the world of autism as well. Temple wrote many books on her life and experiences with autism. She is also a college professor and speaker at autism conferences all over the world. There was recently a TV movie on HBO on her and how she changed the world of cattle slaughter. She was played by Claire Danes and it was phenomenal, it was called Temple Grandin. It really gave an indepth look at how individuals with autism see the world, think differently and are affected by things we wouldn't even consider to be harmful.
Anyways I got side tracked! I find autism fascinating - can you tell!
This study was just released and it was the world's largest genetic study done on autism. They scanned the DNA of 996 children with autism in Canada, the US and Europe. The results indicated that individuals with autism have almost 20 percent more gene deletions that normal.
Some children are missing chunks of  DNA while others carry duplicate stretches of DNA.
This study shows there is not a single gene tied to autism but many genes and many gene regions, that differ from person to person.
This proves that most individuals with autism are probably genetically quite unique, each having their own genetic form of autism. (They compared the genes of individuals with autism to genes of 1,287 unaffected people)
They suggest that since many of the genes are tied to same biological pathway they can provide targets for drug therapies and new treatment. Whoo hoo.

(Study done by Dr. Stephen Scherer, Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children)

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Rachel and John said...

I'm currently doing my masters in Science and I find this very intersting! Thanks for sharing it. I'm going to look up the paper.

J and A said...

Oh wow good for you Rachel. I work with 6 boys with autism at a private school.

woodlandsblonde said...

I graduated with a degree in biochemistry and worked on the current drug licensed for's a tough industry, with things always changing and the proteins wiggling their way out of the drug's hold. It's very interesting how everything works and how amazing the human body is.

Personally, I know nothing about autism - but I think you're right, it's something we should all be aware of and thinking about - who knows what or who's idea could help improve the quality of life.

Annie said...

autism is fascinating to me. i recently came upon a blog with a little boy who has autism and thier story just makes my heart ache. the mom of the blog says she believes her son developed autism becuase of the vaccines he received as an infant.
it would be so amazing if new drugs and therapies were out there to help!
what you do, alison, is amazing!!

J and A said...

Ah thanks Annie. Yeah there is a lot of speculation from parents as to how or when their children have autism.

krink said...

Wow that is a huge development in research! I agree with you however AJ, I think that all of us fall somewhere along the spectrum, just some individuals symptoms present as more severe.