Have you ever encountered a moment in your life that is total irony? I can pin-point mine: third year university in abnormal psychology. We were learning about pervasive developmental disorders, and autism was the front-runner. After reading about it, and watching documentaries, I remember going home and telling my husband, "I think I could handle just about anything but a child that was autistic." Low and behold, 3 years later my child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some may call it tempting fate... I don't know. I have long ceased trying to find an explanation as to why autism even exists; let alone why my daughter has it. In fact, until recently really, most scientists were baffled by it too. So the other day when I was in Yahoo, I caught the headling "Genome Experiment in Autism finds..." you know I had to click on it immediately.
Speculation that it is a hereditary neuropsychiatric disorder seem to be on the right track. Last year I read an article in Time magazine that suggested it was partially due to a protein that deposits itself in babies brain in utero. Just what every mother wants to hear right? In spite of it all, I'm always excited to hear breaking news on the subject. The newest research has identified that autism is probably a defect on the 11th chromosome (that's big by the way), and that neurexin 1 plays a part as well. It amazing that a few years ago they weren't entirely sure. Fears that it was because of immunizations freaked out so many people (FYI it's always been my opinion it's not a correlation at all: it just manifests itself around age 18 months when most people get their kids vaccinated). Others worried it was severe reaction to food allergies (caesin and gluton anyone?). To be honest, it is more reassuring to know that it was probably nothing I ever did, or exposed Kierra to that caused her disorder.
What's even more astounding is that there has been research in the UK on mice with autism. Apparently they have found a sort of immunization that once administered, cured these mice completely of their autistic traits!! Can you imagine that??? The idea that there one day might be an injection that could cure my daughter is unbelievable. Also, since isolating the chromosome, scientists believe they may be able to develop testing both pre-natally and post-natally to diagnose children before it manifests. Instead of the AFP/Triple Screen, they could add autism to the mix as well. For those that know, early diagnosis is key. In fact, most headway against autism is done in the first three years of life, however most kids aren't diagnosed until they are over the age of three (FYI: Kierra was diagnosed just after she turned two). Obviously this is a huge problem. The only reason Kierra was diagnosed is because of my education background, and my recongition of it by the time she was 17 months old. Try fighting your pediatrician that there is something wrong with your toddler when he thinks she's fine. I don't know of any child that talks up a storm and then all of a sudden, loses all her speech and regresses into a non-responsive state.
I have always been forth-coming on having people ask me about autism. Education to me is key, especially when you are your child's advocate in this world. It is amazing that even knowing how wide-spred it really is (1 in 150 children), so many people misunderstand it. Therefore, for any of my blog followers, if you ever have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me. I don't get offended or upset by it. In fact I welcome it. I do hope you all celebrate with me the wonderful news the scientific community has announced. It is definately a huge breakthrough on a disorder that we still have so much to learn about!!
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