Recently, a group of scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles made an interesting discovery that impacts the understanding of autism. According to the report by the UCLA newsroom, the findings center on a particular brain cell pattern. Published in the online edition of Cell, a medical journal, the study shows that in people with autism, the abnormal pattern involves a certain chemical modification and affects brain function on a genetic level.

What is Autism?

Autism is a mental condition that usually shows up in early childhood. People with autism may have trouble connecting and communicating with others, and they may struggle to express themselves verbally. Because of the differences in the way their brains work, autistic individuals may act out or show anger and frustration because certain elements of their environment affect them differently than normal people. Sometimes, autism causes physical problems that affects the gastrointestinal tract or the sleep patterns.

The Autism Spectrum

The autism spectrum accounts for everyone, from the most severe cases to the children with milder symptoms. People with autism are not necessarily less intelligent; in fact,40% of individuals with autism are of average or above average intelligence. Autistic individuals may show astonishing skill or aptitude in art, math, music, or another specific field. In the most severe cases, however, autistic individuals may be nonverbal and unable to care for themselves. There is an autism “spectrum,” indicating different ranges of skills and abilities for people with autism.

What Causes Autism?

No one knows exactly what causes autism, although many people have developed theories of their own. Scientific studies have yet to determined any single cause. Right now, findings indicate that autism disorders often result from a set of genetic and environmental factors, rather than a single cause. The issue seems to go back to a particular set of biological paths that affect genes and the development of new molecules.

Genome Maps and the Future of Autism Research

Thanks to the research of the UCLA team, it appears that scientists are a step closer to understanding the causes of autism. Dr. Daniel Geschwind, the co-senior author of the study, and his colleagues mapped specific epigenetic abnormalities and marks by comparing the brain tissue of people with autism and those without it. This foundational work is a starting point for further research into the genetic factors underlying autism and other conditions.

Do You Know Someone with Autism?

Is there a child in your life who seems to function differently and relate to people in an entirely unique way? Perhaps you have noticed a lack of eye contact, a discrepancy in facial expressions, and a complete lack of understanding for the gestures, body language, and expressions of other people. Autistic children make few gestures— they don’t point or wave much, if at all. They may not smile much or express affection, and they may prefer not to be touched. They often struggle with social interaction in most settings. If you suspect that your child may have autism, bring him or her in to Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic for evaluation. Our warm, caring staff of psychologists in Singapore will help you understand your child’s mental health needs and develop an effective therapy plan to ensure that your child has the tools necessary to function in the world.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: UCLA Newsroom, 7 November, 2016