Within the past two centuries, many researchers have been investigating the role of genetics in the development of various medical conditions. Such studies are taken seriously in an attempt to deal with different diseases and transform the lives of many people. One of the illnesses believed to be associated with a person’s genetic makeup is autism. This paper gives a detailed analysis of this condition and the role of genetics in its development.
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What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a health condition that is recorded within the first few years after birth. Some of the common characteristics of ASD include communication challenges, underdeveloped or impaired social skills, and repetitive behaviors (Alderson-Day, 2014). Patients affected by ASD will have difficulties in learning and social interaction. Alderson-Day (2014) indicates that individuals who have this medical condition tend to face numerous psychiatric challenges such as eating disorders, depression, stress, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
People who have this mental illness are usually uncomfortable whenever dealing with physical items or objectives. Some might find it hard to use non-verbal communication methods such as gestures, body language, or facial expressions. Experts indicate that ASD can be diagnosed effectively at the age of 4 years (Alderson-Day, 2014). Advanced skills in social interaction, learning, and communication start to develop at this stage (Alderson-Day, 2014). Repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, rocking, and echolalia (repeated noises or words) are usually common. The expression of repeated thoughts or words is known as “preservation” (Alderson-Day, 2014). Rigid behaviors also emerge in people with this condition. It should also be observed that individuals who have ASD can possess superior competencies and skills that make them successful in life.
Griesi-Oliveira and Sertié (2017) define genetics as a field that focuses on issues concerning heredity. This area of study examines how individuals acquire specific genetic materials from their parents. Griesi-Oliveira and Sertié (2017) go further to acknowledge that the possession of specific genes can influence the expression of various traits or behaviors. Any form of mutation can result in unusual genes and eventually affect an individual’s physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities. This biological process continues to attract the attention of many researchers and medical experts in an attempt to describe and analyze various conditions affecting mankind today.
According to Griesi-Oliveira and Sertié (2017), autism is a condition that cannot be understood or analyzed without introducing the concept of genetics. This happens to be the case because ASD has been recorded in specific families. A study by Griesi-Oliveira and Sertié (2017) indicated that identical twins sharing similar genes had increased chances of developing this condition in comparison with fraternal ones. This observation explains why genes play a crucial role in the development of this condition. Griesi-Oliveira and Sertié (2017) argue that parents with a child who has autism tend to have higher chances of getting babies with a mental disorder.
Genetic changes have also been found to cause this condition. A study was conducted by Griesi-Oliveira and Sertié (2017) to analyze and compare the DNA of children with autism and those of their parents. This research revealed that the affected children had some extra (or missing) genes. This observation was a clear indication that such changes in the DNA composition could be responsible for the emergence or development of autism. These aspects have been taken seriously in an attempt to understand this medical condition much better and come up with adequate strategies to deal with it.
Due to the complexity of ASD, many experts and researchers have been unable to give an exact prevalence rate of this condition from a global perspective. This is true because ASD is characterized by numerous conditions and disorders. However, Alderson-Day (2014) indicates that the global prevalence rate of ASD is around 1-2 percent. This understanding is relevant since it can guide different states and agencies to implement powerful policies and programs to deal with the condition.
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ASD is a common mental illness that affects many people in different parts of the world. Robert et al. (2017) reveal that one in every 166 people has this condition. The latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that the disease was affecting many individuals in the United States. It was indicated that 2 in every 120 children had the condition (Robert et al., 2017). ASD tends to be common in boys (1 in every 37). In children aged below 10, the incidence rate of autism is around 1 in 59 individuals (Robert et al., 2017). Within the past decade, studies have revealed that the rate has been increasing significantly.
Presently, there is no laboratory testing method for diagnosing ASD. This is the case since the illness is complex in nature and is associated with various learning disabilities and communication challenges. The common method used to diagnose this condition revolves around the use of behavioral evaluations (Robert et al., 2017). This analysis should be completed by trained psychologists and behaviorists. They begin by monitoring unusual signs, such as the inability to maintain eye contact (Alderson-Day, 2014). Underage children who are unable to respond to their names should also be monitored carefully. Those who do not play with toys should also be examined carefully.
Alderson-Day (2014) indicates that ASD should be diagnosed by a competent developmental specialist. This is something that should be done in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The criteria focus on key areas or aspects such as communication and repetitive behaviors. For instance, small children suffering from this condition will exhibit deficits in social interaction (Robert et al., 2017). Behaviorists will also have to consider these signs: inability to interact effectively, undeveloped nonverbal or verbal communication, failure to understand various gestures, and absence of facial expressions. Patients above the age of eight lack of interest in a wide range of activities. With the use of this diagnostic method, psychologists and physicians can identify children and adults who are affected by ASD and propose evidence-based or personalized support systems to empower them (Robert et al., 2017). This initiative will make it possible for many patients to achieve their potential.
ASD is a complex condition characterized by repetitive behaviors, underdeveloped speech, and poor social skills. The illness is hereditary in nature and has been observed to run in different families across the globe. The above discussion should be embraced by parents and guardians to ensure that more children with the condition are evaluated and supported. This move can make it easier for more patients with ASD to lead quality lives and achieve their potential.
Alderson-Day, B. (2014). Verbal problem-solving difficulties in autism spectrum disorders and atypical language development. Autism Research, 7, 720-730. Web.
Griesi-Oliveira, K., & Sertié, A. L. (2017). Autism spectrum disorders: An updated guide for genetic counseling. Einstein, 15(2), 233-238. Web.
Robert, C., Pasquier, L., Cohen, D., Fradin, M., Conitano, R., Damaj, L., … Tordjman, S. (2017). Role of genetics in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder: Towards a hierarchical diagnostic strategy. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(3), 618-647. Web.