Autism Gene Breakthrough Hailed

Autism Gene Breakthrough Hailed

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"Scientists have found new autism genes by scanning the largest collection of families with multiple cases of autism ever assembled. The monumental task of studying the 1,200 families took more than 120 scientists from more than 50 institutions across 19 countries. The work, described in Nature Genetics, implicates a specific gene called neurexin 1," and experts say the findings should enable new autism treatments. (BBC)


  1. Concerns about a new ‘ism’
    While reading this article, I felt concerned about the statement ‘scientists have long suspected that errors in a person’s genetic blueprint play a part in autism.’ I don’t think anyone has errors” in their genetic blueprint. They may have differences from others or from most people

  2. Science has a language of its own
    The mindset of science is to identify a problem – like, actively say this is something we’d like to be able to change” – and then to test approaches to solve the problem. It’s hard to express the difference between wanting to lift a burden off of folks with different DNA

  3. I agree, Marty
    When I was trying to decide whether to upload this article — and it is such an interesting process of looking at words and deciding if it fits the criteria of the good news network — I noticed the glaring language, as well.

    People with autism may have incredible skills or talents in other areas of life because of the dna gene, or because of how it makes their brain work.

    It is great that they are researching, not so great that they have to lump all people in a pile and call them broken…

    But as long as we are distiguishing in our own minds, and pointing out distinctions to others, we are doing are best, with what Columbine rightly points out, is a flawed system of language.


  4. I hope the discussion continues
    I think the article and this discussion form part of a debate about whether ‘autism spectrum disorders’ need to be cured at all. I felt strongly about this BBC article because of a New Scientist story I’d read from 18 June 2005 called ‘Autistic and Proud of It.’ The piece talked about some autistic people who would rather accept themselves and be accepted by others than be ‘treated.’ So I admit I am biased because I feel for these people.

    I understand that some scientists want to research autism in terms of genes. But, to be frank, I think that these genetic differences might represent evolution, a term scientists are familiar with, and that they are called errors from the perspective of people without those variations. We have the language to keep talking about this, and all words are allowed. Part of the challenge is to understand the meanings, and consequences, that these words have to different people.

  5. I have a friend who is a school teacher who works with children with autism. She made a comment to my husband and I who are expecting our first. She mentioned that she noticed that most (not all) children who have autism have parents who are very linear thinkers, such as engineers (definitely not a good description for us). Extremely intelligent parents who just may not be very artistic (for lack of a better term). She also mentioned how sad it can be with some of the parents that their child has a “problem that needs to be fixed.”

    She then told us how most of her day is spent teaching the kids how to recognize emotions and expressions. She gave us a demo, I’d have to say I would be embarrassed to be so dramatic. However, I found it quite interesting and I would totally do it if I needed to. Heck, coming from a very emotional family, it is just another form of sign language.

    Quite frankly, gene therapy scares me. Sure, I would love to see genetic diseases be ‘cured.’ But this, this is different. These people are not diseased, maybe just dis-at-ease which apparently we can help them with by creating homes and environments that help them to be them and not have to conform to our nutty social requirements.

    Anyway, thank you for the comments and discussions. A really big thank you for the info on the idea that there is an Autistic Pride Day. That is just fabulous.