“Autism – What We Know” by Wendy Chung

For today’s blog, I originally planned to take a look back on the month of April and our activities.

However, I just watched a TED Talk titled “Autism – What We Know (And What We Don’t Know Yet)” by Wendy Chung, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) Director of Clinical Research. Dr. Chung’s presentation is a concise, informative review of what we know about autism, what we don’t know, and what definitely has been proven false.

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Dr. Wendy Chung

Some of the information that I found fascinating included:

– Genes play a larger role in autism than they do in cancer, heart disease, or diabetes

–  25% of cases with autism are caused by a genetic mutation that was neither possessed nor transmitted by the parent but occurred in the egg, the sperm, or both

– There is not one gene for autism but 200 to 400 different ones that can cause autism. Understanding how the genes work together will be the key to treating autism.

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Full interaction network with ASD genes highlighted

– An eye-tracking tool measuring a baby’s eye movement as he/she watches a video of a person speaking is being used by researchers to analyze whether the baby has trouble making eye contact and thereby is more likely to develop autism

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Interaction between ASD genes.

As Dr. Chung so clearly states, “as much as we know, there is so much more that we don’t know”. I’d encourage you to take the 15 minutes and watch the video, tell your friends about the talk, and together we can increase autism awareness not just in April but throughout the entire year. If you know a person or family living with autism, encourage them to join the Interactive Autism Network (IAN). Much more research and information is needed and if we are to help people on the spectrum live their best lives.

 

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