Several twin studies have proved that autism is caused by certain genes. In instances in which one twin has autism, the other twin displayed autistic traits as well. Autism is a complex condition and is can take a range of forms,(for example Asperger autism) some very different from the other- it is in fact more correctly referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Scientists have linked dozens of genes to autism and know that further research will uncover possibly hundreds more. The complexity of the condition makes this latter supposition feasible. A link has been found between autism and other brain disorder and moreover, the genes causing autism are even located close to other genes that are responsible for these brain disorders. These other disorders include manic depression (bipolar disorder) and obsessive compulsive disorder.
What are the symptoms of autism?
The symptoms of this condition are many and different people suffering from the condition can display very different symptoms:
- Language skills – often do not have developed language skills for their age
- Play- they have problems creating imaginary situations; often very repetitive and isolated
- Restricted and obsessive behaviour: they may only talk to one person, attach themselves excessively to people, objects, places or activities.
The list goes on. Genetic mutations have been found in children with autism. In fact, studies entire clusters of mutations present in children with autism.
There is of course the issue of whether the genes are inherited. Generally, the consensus is that spontaneous mutations take place causing autism and thus, that the condition is not necessarily inherited from parents. There may be an environmental component that triggers autism or triggers the genes to become active.
Further studies will indeed reveal more about the genes that are responsible for autism.