Autism

Biology Genetic Disease Research Project

Introduction

I chose Autism because I personally know children and families who are affected by the genetic disease. I know a little boy who is only 5 years old, and was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2. He has a lot of trouble forming words and explaining things, but his family is very supportive and helpful. He mostly uses hand signs to communicate, and his mom is his "translator". He has seizures and is very hyperactive, side affects of the disease. He plays and runs around like any other kid, and he has a lot of support from family and friends

What is it?

About Autism

Autism is a genetic disorder that affects the brain development in young children. The average age of diagnosis is 2 or 3, and since there is no cure, people will have the disease their whole life. Autism slows the brains ability to learn and develop, and will also impact speech and communication. Some patients with Autism may have exceptional abilities in visual and academic skills, or may be a whiz at the arts. Every patient is different, the disorder affecting each person a different way. There is no clear cause for Autism, but researchers have found that both environmental factors and genetic disabilities play a role in autism. Also, abnormalities in brain structure or function at birth can lead to Autism. Some genetic diseases are linked to Autism, such as fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and congenital rubella syndrome. Hyperactive children and sleep difficulties are side affects of Autism, due to the impact it has on certain areas of the brain. There is no specific gene that Autism is located on, but researchers are working on scanning genetic codes for irregularities that could lead to Autism. Autism is more common in boys then girls, and now affects on average 1 in 68 children. Autism is also the fastest-growing mental disorder in the US.
What is autism?

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptom of Autism is delayed development as a child. Delayed talking or babbling, no social interaction, and poor eye contact are some of the earlier signs. These signs will start to appear around 18-24 months. As the child gets older, lack of playing with other children, and constant lining up of toys or certain routines may be prominent. Regular milestone appointments and routine checkups will help diagnose the child as soon as possible.

Diagnosis

Autism is diagnosed by behavioral therapists, physicians, and psychologists. There is no scans or tests we can take to medically diagnose Autism, so we turn to therapists and medical officials to diagnose Autism. If the case seems serious, genetic testing may be recommended, as well as screening for sleep difficulties. Autism isn't always diagnosed at 2-3 years old, although thats the main time frame. Some people don't even notice abnormal behaviors until later on in life, until ages 7-10.

Treatment

There is no real cure for Autism, but prescription medications and therapeutic exercises can play a huge role on the child. Most schools have classes that have one-on-one exercises with special needs kids, including autistic kids. These exercises help kids with everyday jobs, such as recycling or brushing their teeth. These activities work on communication skills, motor skills, play skills, and daily living.
A Day in the Life of a Child with Autism at The ELIJA School

What I Learned

From my research I learned that Autism affects more males than females, and that 1 in 68 people have Autism in the US. I also learned that there is no screening or tests that can be done to diagnose Autism, but that medical officials must examine the child and diagnose them. I hope that someday there will be more research done to help diagnose and cure Autism, and that the little boy I know can live a long healthy life, with or without Autism.

Resources