Department Archive

Archive of: Special Needs

Title Issue
The role of genetics in autism spectrum disorder

The role of genetics in autism spectrum disorder

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) seems to have increased significantly over the last thirty years, resulting in much speculation about the causes of this disorder. Everything from pollution to vaccines to labor induction/augmentation has been blamed, none of which has been supported by scientific research. However, autism has at least some heritable/genetic component because of the difference in rates between identical and nonidentical twins. A new study adds more evidence to the relationship between genetic factors and autism. Researchers from Kings College London led by PhD candidate Beata Tick used data from the Twins Early Development Study which included all twins born in England and Wales from 1994 through 1996. Evaluations were done on 128 twin pairs in which one twin had an autism diagnosis, using several common screening tools. Tools included a population-based measure (the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test), diagnostic measures (the Development and Well-being Assessment, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised) and a best-estimate diagnosis. Researchers found that correlation on these measures was higher for identical twins compared to non-identical twins, with a heritability estimate of 56 percent to 95 percent. According to researcher Dr. Francesca Happe, “Our findings suggest environmental factors are smaller, which is important because some parents are concerned whether things like high pollution might be causing autism.” Now, many scientists are working to discover the specific genes that may contribute to a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Dr. Happe says there may be hundreds. ACSH’s Ariel Savransky says, “Hopefully this current study will help to debunk some of the misleading information promulgated to the public regarding the causes of autism. Although this study may be just the tip of the iceberg and there is a long way to go before researchers get definitive results regarding specific genes that may contribute to ASD, the fear that autism is caused by some factor associated with modern lifestyles should be at least partially allayed.”

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Happy holiday hints for your child with special needs

Happy holiday hints for your child with special needs

Holidays bring joy and family traditions that warm the hearts of many. For those of us who have children with special needs, the holidays take on an entirely new dimension. Like everyone, we have shopping, cooking, decorating and preparation. However, there are additional ways in which we must ready our children for the holiday season. Children who have autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and self-regulation difficulties need some assistance to navigate the

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Children with Autism who live with pets are more assertive

Children with Autism who live with pets are more assertive

Dogs and other pets play an important role in individuals’ social lives, and they can act as catalysts for social interaction, previous research has shown. Although much media attention has focused on how dogs can improve the social skills of children with autism, a University of Missouri researcher recently found that children with autism have stronger social skills when any kind of pet lived in the home.

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Facts about the history of autism

Would you ever think that autism is related to schizophrenia? And would you ever think that autism was treated with LSD? While most people may not relate autism with these things, scientists and families once did

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October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month

Did you know that 1 in 10 people have symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing or mixing up similar words? Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and contrary to some beliefs, it is not due to either lack of intelligence or a desire to learn.

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Caring for chronically ill children

Caring for chronically ill children

As they Grow Special Needs Over the last two decades, the number of children in the United States with chronic illnesses has dramatically increased. According to one study, chronic health conditions in children rose from 12.8 Percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006 . New advances in technology and medicine have allowed these children to lead longer, more fulfilling, and independent lives than in the past.

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Autism and Medical Care: A Guide to getting the attention an individual with ASD needs

When a child with autism spectrum disorder enters a doctor’s office, are they being treated with the same care and attention as a child not on the spectrum?

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National Autism Network - Things autism parents want the public to now

National Autism Network - Things autism parents want the public to now

The National Autism Network has asked its community of parents, who are more than 10,000 strong, what they most want the public to know about their children. "It was a simple question that generated some very powerful responses," said Cari DeCandia, co-founder of National Autism Network. “National awareness is great, but we're trying to go beyond awareness to acceptance. We hope this list will help."

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Top self-advocacy tips for a person with Autism

Top self-advocacy tips for a person with Autism

Autism authors Monica Holloway and Areva Martin see firsthand, as parents to teens on the spectrum, the benefits that self-advocacy can bring to people with autism. They offer the following tips for self-advocacy, inspired by their own personal experiences and resources offered by Autism Speaks and the Autism Society.

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Study reveals one-in-four moms wonder if a special needs evaluation is needed for their child

Study reveals one-in-four moms wonder if a special needs evaluation is needed for their child

Parents magazine has revealed exclusive results from a study of moms of children with special needs and those whose children are typically developing, comparing their opinions on the health and happiness of children in their communities.

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