Autism Gets a Special Day


World Autism Awareness Day is  to make people aware of autism.  Landmarks around the world will  be in blue as a way to celebrate this special day.

In Galway, Ireland,  a number of landmarks will be lit up in the Claddagh basin to make people aware of this special ay for autism.   The Galway Autism Partnership people are hoping that the event will get people to talk about the autistic people and that people should understand autistic people better.

The head of the Galway Autism Partnership people feels that people are talking about autistic people in a better way.  The head feels that it used to be a taboo and that people are much more accepting now.  Barriers have come down. The lives of autistic people as well as their families have become better.

The Irish Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research (ICAN) has been inviting Galway families with autistic children to become part of a study. In preparation for the research, ICAN has set up a biobank and a registry. ICAN feels that the study focuses their future decisions and that it will hopefully maximize benefit for autistic people. A wide range of topics such as early intervention and school factors will be part of study.

Another recent ASD study was comparing identical twins who are 100 percent genetically the same with non-identical twins who  are 50 percent genetically the same. In the past, studies like this have found if one of the twins is autistic, the twin has 60 to 90 percent chance of being ASD as well.  With non-identical twins, there is a 30 percent chance of both having autism.

Genetic studies of  twins with autism have been made possible by advances in genetic tools like the DNA sequencing studies.  Genetic tools allow geneticists to study genetic factors in many people at a much better rate than in the past.  The tools have also lowered the costs of studies so they can do many international studies of autism genetics.  One of the findings of these new genetic studies is that most autistic cases are caused by a rare mutation of genes.  This happens in about 15 to 20 percent of the case.  The percentage would be most likely increase as further studies are done.

Some of these genetic mutations may have come from the parents. The majority of these mutations are actually felt to come from fresh, new mutations that spontaneously happen in a generation of new egg cells or sperm.

These new mutations ,that are definitely not carried by the parents , can cause a rise of some cases of autism.  The mutation is the cause, but there is history in the family of ASD.  Doctors can screen for these for new mutations and people can be told about risks that could repeat in the future.

A recent study by the US Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention showed the one of 68 children could have autism. One of 42 boys could have what is called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). World Autism Awareness Day can make people more aware of the special condition as well as what is happening with the many studies that are happening with ASD.

By Tom Clark

Irish Times
Irish Examiner

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