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  1. #1
    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    Default Autism Research Breakthrough, genetic variation-could it be evolution?

    Reading the following article

    Autism and genetics: A breakthrough that sheds light on a medical mystery - Science, News - The Independent

    The "what if?" Flags are going up for me again on this topic.

    I have copied the section below which caught my eye most.

    "The Autism Genome Project, involving more than 1,500 families from across the US, Canada, Britain and the rest of Europe, attempted to identify the genetic side to the disorder through genome-wide scans of the DNA of patients. The researchers concentrated on a type of genetic difference that distinguishes one person from another, called copy number variations (CNVs), where the same stretch of DNA containing up to 20 genes is replicated several times.

    They found that autistic children were likely to carry about 20 per cent more CNVs than ordinary children. They also found that many of the CNVs found in autistic children were not carried by their parents, but were newly arisen, probably prior to conception during the formation of the egg or sperm – like the chromosome changes leading to Down's syndrome."


    (I am aware of the negative connotations made by linking probable similarities with Down's syndrome)

    Oh yes i do realise that i will be getting lots of people who are of the opinion that it's a terrible debilitating life long condition and a genetic mutation. I am also sure i will be accused of glorifying ASD.
    But i think not.
    There is also the huge increase of ASD... a 400% increase in the last 10-15 years.
    When thinking this over i pondered darwins theory of evolution on natural selection.......

    Your thoughts please?
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    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    I've mentioned the possibility on the forum in the past (sans scientific research). I think I got a mixed reaction.

    I honestly don't know what to think. When I see my own sons who function well overall, are intelligent, but a little Spocky when it comes to social stuff, I believe they could be an evolutionary advancement. When I see less high-functioning kids who have to wear helmets because of their constant head-banging or kids that aren't ever going to be verbal, I have my doubts.

    We still have so much to learn about autism, it's really hard to say.

    FWIW, I don't know about my sons' genes, but I do know that several characteristics associated with autism run pretty strong in my husband's mother's side of the family. They didn't just come out of nowhere like some autistcs seem to.
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    ¡MI TORTA! Amethyst's Avatar
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    Hmm...If you're implying that this is sort of an 'evolution', then I'd have to disagree.


    The Autistic Savant | Wisconsin Medical Society

    It pretty much states that many autistic people aren't as extremely intelligent as many would think. Yes there is quite a number of people with autism out there who have a greater intelligence than others that wouldn't really be considered at a savant status, but even then, it's not likely to be found.

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    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tawanda View Post
    Hmm...If you're implying that this is sort of an 'evolution', then I'd have to disagree.


    The Autistic Savant | Wisconsin Medical Society

    It pretty much states that many autistic people aren't as extremely intelligent as many would think. Yes there is quite a number of people with autism out there who have a greater intelligence than others that wouldn't really be considered at a savant status, but even then, it's not likely to be found.
    Well a couple of things crop up for me here. One is how we measure intelligence, many intelligence tests are biased as they are in a style which is suited to the majority but fail people who are "different". The other is that evolution does not happen overnight so the presumption that all autistic people would have to be savants is rather misleading.
    In general your response reminds me of the presumption that people with sight believe blind people just see black...rather like when people with sight close their eyes.
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

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    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    I just found a link which i think is interesting regarding different testing styles producing different results in people with autism...although i hasten to add it appears (and feels) very tip of the iceberg....
    http://mara.blog.zm.nu/wp-content/up...ce_PS_2007.pdf
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

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    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    I've always thought this was probably the case, instead of an environmental cause.

    However, I don't believe this is an "evolution" thing because I don't think the numbers are actually rising. The recent surveys that claimed the rates of autism are now 1 in 100 (1 in 70 for boys, 1 in 130 for girls) also found that 1 in 100 ADULTS also have a spectrum disorder (many newly diagnosed). If the rates were truly ballooning like that, the increase would only appear in children.

    It seems to be a statistical anomaly caused by widening of the diagnostic criteria (appropriately IMO- thus identifying more people with autism that were previously missed), better access to healthcare providers who can make the diagnosis, and a softening stigma. It seems to me that the prevailing popular opinion of ASD used to be entirely negative, and synonymous with retardation. More people are aware now that autism is a communication disorder that is not always or even most of the time coupled with intellectual disability. People with autism tend to be specialists rather than generalists, so their intellectual profiles are distinguished by "peaks and valleys."
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    Senior Member InsatiableCuriosity's Avatar
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    This is interesting! I recall that many years ago there was a comment in a coffee table book I was reading at a friend's place that said that Silicon Valley had an unusually high proportion of children born with ASD. As the years have passed and Aspergers and other ASDs appear to have increased in incidence I begin to wonder whether the rise in personal use of computers and gadgets and the resultant increase in EMR may not be having an effect on the genome???
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    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Senior Member InsatiableCuriosity's Avatar
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    ^ Thanks for these Ivy
    "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible."
    — Richard P. Feynman

    "Never tell a person a thing is impossible. G*d/the Universe may have been waiting all this time for someone ignorant enough of the impossibility to do just that thing."
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    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    Actually i think the increase in asd does mainly affect children, i don't agree that as many adults are being diagnosed or that the ratio is the same in adults. I have a link below....
    Study: Childhood Rise in Autism Cases Real
    but it would be fair to say that even without this link (and there are many to support this theory) i believe it is becomming more frequent in each year that passes, the reason i believe this is because i feel it and see it everywhere.
    It used to be the case when my child was first diagnosed (5 years ago)that when we went to the playground (or anywhere out) it seemed that i was the only one around, with few exceptions, with a child with autism. Even in the last several years that amount has dramatically increased, i now see many children with asd, i talk to people and everyone i speak to now knows a child with autism.
    I don't believe this is due simply to diagnostic criteria or indeed better awareness, it seems to me there is a boom, becomming ever more frequent.
    Last edited by Betty Blue; 06-20-2010 at 05:23 AM. Reason: mistake
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

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