Autism Spectrum Disorder and Autism are among some of the most complex mental disorders. The condition is prevalent right from childhood. It can be characterized by the inability or difficulty in communication (both verbal and non-verbal), difficulty in maintaining and creating relationships and maintaining social interactions and repetitive behaviors. While autism is not exclusively a childhood condition, it is more common in infant compared to the elderly. In 2013, the DSM diagnostic manual was able to categorize and classify the different forms of Autism into a general umbrella called Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Varying symptoms and possible remedies make Autism a spectrum of symptoms with varying degrees of medical and psychological sensitivity.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is sometimes referred to a mental disability. The difficulties in motor coordination and attention make the condition a prime subject for mental disability. In addition to this, the decreased functionality of the brain also has physical manifestations for persons living with the condition. Research indicates that Autism has roots in the earliest stages of brain development. While there is no known cure for the condition, early diagnosis and therapy have proven to realize a lot of positive outcomes.
There are statistics that indicate the increase in the prevalence of Autistic children by an astonishing, 556% between 1991 and 1997. The impairments of children in behavioral context have been on the rise leading to increased research on the phenomenon. Research has been able to look at Autism a spectrum of different conditions all categorized as autistic behavior. It is important to note that the cause of Autism cannot be singled out as any one factor given the varying types of Autism. Still, scientific research has been at the forefront, identifying the cause of ASD. Research indicates that there are a selected number of genetic mutations and changes that have increased the prevalence of Autism, across the board.
All research, however, states that there are certain genetic predispositions that have been known to cause Autism Disorder. However, the genetic predispositions associated with autism spectrum disorder are influenced by several environmental conditions. The stresses that expectant mothers often have to cope with have been noted to increase the child risk that is associated with Autism. Some of the external factors that increase the risks that are associated with Autism include; maternal illness during pregnancy, parental age during the time of conception, and even pregnancy or live birth complications. While these factors do not cause autism exclusively, they are significant influences that increase the risks for the prevalence of the condition.
The genetics of Autism has been the recourse research area that scientists have focused on as far as autism and related disorders are concerned. From the research, there are no pure autism genes. The search for autistic genes is believed to be an invaluable basis for research on Autism. It is important to note that the lack of homogeneity in autism has made the disorder very difficult to define. Still, there are research models that offer insight into the degree of impact that certain genes have in one condition or another. An analysis of autism on twins is one of the most influential studies when it comes to such conditions. Extensive research has returned some of the most interesting and definite results on the genetics of Autism.
The first is that the disorder is genetically hereditary. The genetic influence is the most dominant influence when it comes to the causes of Autism. A study that looked into the environmental and genetic influences in twins found that approximately 56-96% of autistic cases are genetically influenced in a significant way. For identical twins, if one twin was diagnosed as autistic, the chances of the other being autistic was 76%. This number significantly decreases to 34% for fraternal twins and 18% for twins of different sexes.
A recent study from Ohio State University has furthered the information concerning autism and child prodigies. It must be noted that there are similarities between autistic persons and child prodigies. The link between the genetic similarities of the two offer a different perspective on the disorder and more importantly explain some of the issues that remain unknown to the pediatric circles and the general public. The study took five nuclear and extended families with child prodigies and looked to find genetic loci in either nuclear or extended family. The research hoped to find that the link between the two different conditions was genetic in nature, thereby furthering data on the same. In addition to this, a genetic association between the two would account for the linkage signal. The study found that there was indeed a link between the genetic of autism and that of child prodigies in within the same family. The link was however only a variant that increases the risk of having both prodigy and autistic children in the same family.
Another study in the International Journal of Epidemiology also indicated that the difference in there is also some genetic link between parents (Fathers) and children with autism. The study found that fathers' epigenetic tags are responsible for the regulating gene activity. The study indicated that there was a relation between the presence or absence of these epigenetic tags and the likely hood of a child being diagnosed with autism. The epigenetic correlation should offer scientists insight on mechanisms of limiting the impact of the disorder. Still, there remains much work to completely understand Autism and the different variable and influences that have led the disorder to be as significant and impactful as it has been.
Some of the most promising areas of study are the approaches that look to explore and explain the association between genes and autism. The genome screening process that has been invaluable to exploring autism. The common genetic markers within populations and different multiplex families continue to delineate the myths and the inconsistencies in research on autism. Recent advances in cytogenetics offer a narrower view of the genetic links between autism and genes. Cytogenetics looks into issues like genetic abnormalities (inherited or spontaneous genetic). Other fields that also hold significant value to elucidating all data on Autism is Linkage Disequilibrium (LD). LD is more accurate as it links specific genes to autism. Research on the disorder is still not complete. The information that is present on the same has however grown to be very instrumental in the management of autism. It should be noted that alongside the genetic influences, autism is also influenced by environmental factors. The care that a child receives during pregnancy and the stresses that the mother has usually has some influence as far as risk of diagnosis is concerned.
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