Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Mind-Blowing Autism Symposium

The collective intellect of the distinguished lecturers at yesterday’s Annual Autism Symposium, hosted by Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital was absolutely staggering. Dr. Constantino the developer of the widely used Social Responsiveness Scale, and researcher Laura Schreibman PhD, both gave remarkable presentations on their ground breaking research in the field of Autism. But for today's blog, I will write of the extraordinary, Dr. Gupta and her brilliant work.
 Dr. Gupta’s presentation of the Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders was absolutely astonishing! This extremely complex subject was delivered in such a manner that even myself, a layman, walked away from there with the understanding that not only are genes the mechanism in the development of autism disorder in children but quite possibly the key to unraveling all its mysteries.   She spoke of the high number of CNV’s (irregularities) in the genes that help the neural synapses to run smoothly in children with autism. This effects how well the neuronal cells communicate and stick to one another, or in this case don’t communicate or stick to each other.   To quote the good doctor, “there is no one gene for autism, not even a few.  There are likely dozens, perhaps hundreds.” Her work at Yale will most likely change what we know about and how we treat Autism.
Because of the advancements in technology, the expedience in which genes can now be mapped has moved forward at lightning speed.  But vast quantities of genes need to be available to get an accurate picture. What we all can do to help things move even faster is encourage families that have a child with autism to register with the IAN Project, or if they have more than one affected child to register at AGRE.  Both of these programs collect valuable information about families and make it available to researchers. Yesterday, Dr. Constantino stated that in order to significantly move forward in research; the Ian Project and AGRE need to “grow by ten-fold”. Let's give these brilliant minds something to research!
We should consider ourselves the pioneers that need to blaze a trail, mapping the land as we go. My hope is that all pediatricians, clinicians, and teachers strongly encourage their clients to register and become a part of the invaluable research on this frontier.  Let's get on the wagon train! Go and Register! No Excuses. Be a part of history by being a part of the solution.
Collectively, we can conquer this!

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