Autism/ Asperger Syndrome

Biology Research Project

What is Autism?

Autism is a genetic disorder that develops in the brain, and appears in the first 2-3 years of age. It can have a multitude of effects; most have above average intellectual abilities, like academic, visual, and music skills, though some are unable to live by themselves.

What Are Some Symptoms of Autism?

The most common symptoms of Autism include Social Challenges, Repetitive Behaviors, and Communication Difficulties. There are some other physical/medical symptoms that may accompany Autism, like seizure disorders or sleep dysfunctions.

What Causes Autism?

Scientists aren't really sure what causes Autism, but they concluded that it could be genetics/environmental factors. They've found a number of genes connected with Autism and distortions in many areas of the brain (likely caused by gene defects). It is a mutation; there are more than 100 genes/gene mutations that are linked to Autism.

How is Autism Inherited?

It's not really inherited; most genetic traits in Autism involved de novo mutations (they aren't passed down generations, but instead just spontaneously happen). It is located on the Y-chromosome (male), and it is neither dominant or recessive (since it is not genetically inherited).

How is Autism Treated?

Though there is no cure, Autism has a multitude of treatments. Some include behavioral management therapy, early intervention therapy, joint attention therapy, medication therapy, physical therapy, and social skills training. Medications taken for Autism include Amitriptyline, Bupropion, Clomipramine, Fluvoxamine, and Fluoxetine.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Autism is actually very difficult, since there are no medical tests (like blood tests) used to diagnose Autism. Instead, doctors look at the patient's behaviors and development. They use 2 steps in their test; Developmental Screening, and Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation. Developmental Screening is a short test that tells if the child is learning basic skills when they should. Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation is a review that looks at the child's daily behaviors, runs hearing & vision screening, and even interviews the parents. They also use genetic counseling to diagnose the disease.

Who is Likely to Have Autism?

Most patients that are diagnosed with Autism are children, before the 3rd year of age. Though it is not inherited, it does tend to run in families; the younger sibling of a child that has the disease is 5 to 10 times more likely to also have the disease. It also affects males more than females; males are up to 5 times more likely to have Autism than females.

What I've Learned

I actually didn't know a lot about Autism until now. Two of the main things I didn't know were that Autism is not inherited & there are no medical tests to diagnose the disease.