Monday, February 26, 2007

More Autism Research

Part of my pre-marriage life was working in social services.

I enjoyed working one-on-one, particularly with autistic people. And I have maintained an interest in that field. It wasn't easy, but it was interesting.

I found this study quite interesting.

Some notes from the article
Discoveries in two areas of the genome — a region on chromosome 11 suspected of having links to autism, and aberrations in a brain-development gene called neurexin 1 — could spur more targeted research, the experts noted.
"That's the real promise here," said Autism Genome Project co-researcher Dr. Stephen Scherer, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. "When you identify certain genes, you can then develop genetic tests — in some cases prenatal and in some cases postnatal — because early diagnosis is crucial here."
Now mind, I hope that people would use that as a reason to look for early treatment, and not to kill unborn children.

Autistic children can be fascinating with how they view the world. I would hate for that to be lost.

Is there pain in raising a child with an Autism Spectrum disorder? yes. But from parents I know, there is also joy. Joy in re-learning simple refocusing techniques. The joy in hitting two sticks together because they might not always sound the same. The joy just in having children.
Genetic discoveries can also further research toward a cure for autism, Scherer said.

"When we have this type of knowledge, we can actually think about designing better therapies based on what we know is not happening properly in the [brain] cell. We can try and design things to make it work better," he explained.
This research will help point the way to other new research, which I just think is neat. Hopefully will be a great help to parents and others in helping these children function well.

One thing is for sure, however: Autism research holds more promise now than ever before, the experts said.

"Anybody that's working out here can use this information now, and it really provides a great path forward as to how we need to do our experiments over the next five years or so," Scherer said. "We've now got all these new candidate genes — the neurexins, the various copy number variants — and we can tackle the problem in a much more focused and organized way."

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