You may want to visit and contribute your experiences at the Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force site and inspire them in their public – private effort to achieve their goal. Their vision is to get the desired outcome in three to five years as a result of the work laid out to implement the Minnesota Autism Spectrum Disorder strategic plan. Help them in your own, unique creative way.
You may also contact the Science Department Leadership at various autism foundations, such as Autism Speaks, and Autism Support Network with your personal experiences, hunches and suggestions on which public – private large scale database efforts to fund.
Autism rates continue to rise at an alarming rate
Tomorrow the autistic child could be someone born in your family – 1/50 to 1/80th chance of happening today, with more boys being born with autism than girls. States are drowning with the rising numbers of autism cases. The role of environment cannot be ignored which you may read by clicking “Why is Autism observed in America and not in underdeveloped countries?“, although dyslexia and mild communication disorder is rising worldwide (Read more). The role of shared family genes is not being ignored but so far, no clear association has scientific merit. You may call it the Geek syndrome but as Steve Silberman describes, if the autism spectrum genes were eliminated from society, it would be disastrous for the evolution of society. He also adds here that Microsoft recently became the first major US corportion to offer its employees insurance benefits to cover the costs of behavioral training for their autistic children. The number of autistic children among their employees were high enough to justify that – a fact that did not exist even over a decade ago. And their numbers continue to rise.
History of Autism
John Hopkins Neuroimmunopath has a FAQ site on their “Focus on Autism“. They are researching the role of the immune system in Autism. You might want to visit their site to consider what unseen factors inside the body control the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After all, the first cases of Autism in USA were diagnosed at John Hopkins by Dr. Leo Kanner and published in 1943 to alert the public. Dr. Hans Asperger of Austria described a similar group of patients around the same time and the distinctive sypmtoms got a diagnostic name.
Although historical accounts point to the existence of what could be isolated cases of autism, the mid 20th century is the first time clusters of patients with distinct ASD symptoms began to be diagnosed. Unfortunately, ASD cases are rising at a rate that we find alarming, even if we allow for a certain threshold of misdiagnosis. There is no known cure for ASD. Since we do not know a cause we cannot begin to prevent onset of ASD, which usually strikes suddenly and without warning around the age of 18 months, according to parental reports. Although there is no doubt that genetics or inherited family factors plays a role in susceptibility to ASD, scientists cannot rule out a potential major role for non-heritable risk factors. A strong supporting reason for this is an observation by parents of Somali origin, which you may read by clicking “Why is Autism observed in America and not in underdeveloped countries?“. Scientist urge for more research on the important role of Vit D, as a possible environmental risk factor in Autism Spectrum Disorder. You may read their review by clicking here. Research studies on gene x environment are identifying which pesticide, herbicide, fungicide classes are of greatest concern in susceptible populations.
What is Autism
Sceptics abound (Read Forbes magazine article here). Many do not know what is Autism. Just like in the early 1980s the average person had no idea what HIV and AIDS was; similarly, the average skeptic today is unacquainted with autism and untouched by the daily adversities of living with autism. Those who have never seen or been in the same room, let alone family, of an autistic individual, will not have any empathy for this discussion. Take your autistic child to public museums, movie theaters, enclosed botanical garden exhibitions. Tell every skeptic who frowns with displeasure that this disruptive individual is a healthy, autistic person. Your job is educational in nature and to reach as many skeptics as you can. If you believe that Autism research needs more believers, then you will have to leave a skeptic alone in the same room with a severely autistic child. Then, leave the skeptic alone in the same room with simply a misbehaved child. The skeptic will realize that there is a difference. Then, to justify urgency, you can show evidence as to how the numbers of autistic children are growing, and soon to become a growing burden on society as they age and their parent – caretakers die. Who will take care of them? Additionally, society is losing 1/50 of every young male or 1/80 of every young child who could contribute gainfully to social security or medicare. Can society let such monetary contributors get lost without a question? In 1960 there were 4.9 workers paying into the social security system for every beneficiary collecting (click here for Time magazine article). In 2035 there will be 1.9 workers for every social security recipient. With rising autism rates, how many of these 1.9 workers will be unable to contribute to this social equation and instead require social care as their caretaker parents die?
It is possible that part of the reason why no other risk factors have been identified may be that genetic and non – genetic factors need to be studied together in order to get a complete ASD profile. What factor/s changed globally in the developed world around mid 20th century? The scientists need the assistance of the public to solve this mystery as observant team members. You may click here to learn more about facts of ASD and the Autism Fact Sheet of John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. The origins, detection, measurement and prevention of conditions that affect behavioral, socioemotional and/or cognitive development are specific to Autism and ASD and are discussed here.
Role of Dirt/Microbial biome in Allergy, Asthma and ASD?
A blogger, summarizes a recent research study and it’s conclusion that dirt may be necessary to prevent allergies in “Dirt Prevents Allergies“. The researchers, headed by Professor Bisgaard, followed a cohort of asthma patients for several years to identify what factors might have triggered their disease. While these researchers are still looking for asthma trigger factor/s in early childhood, they did find that there was a connection between lack of diversity of bacteria in the intestine and allergy and have published their results in the journal of allergy and clinical immunology in 2011. The “microbial biome” is the term used to define all the bacteria that a healthy intestine supports. You may click here to read “Worm Theory: to improve the immune system to fight asthma, multiple sclerosis and more”. Several families have reported the presence of a parent with multiple sclerosis and children with autism and/or allergy. There apparently is a age – related connection. A younger family member presents with autism while an older family member has symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Since, researchers are finding that the immune system is involved in both Autism – which is on the rise recently, and in food allergy – which too is on the rise in recent decades and often in the same family, we have to wonder if it is correct to ask, “Is Autism an immune reaction with an allergic profile?” However, why did the recent study of Bisgaard and colleagues not find a common factor in allergy and asthma yet? Multiple sclerosis, a nerve disease, is also on the rise in recent decades, and often reported in families with autism and severe allergies.
When is the earliest trigger for the diseases that are on the rise in recent years? Why is the first symptom seen not at birth but a few months, several months or years later? What factors control later symptoms? Is it an age – related control? You may want to read a popular article “How I gave my son autism” by Thinking Mom’s Revolution, which lists eight things this mother would change given a change to move time back.
No single gene appears to control autism. Studies indicate that the main immune mechanism in autism is an innate immune reaction. Contrast this to adaptive immune response seen in diseases such as meningitis and encephalitis. What is the difference between innate and adaptive immune system? A simple biological explanation is given by the Univesity of Arizona researchers here.
The Autism Genome Project
The Autism Genome project(AGP) is a large-scale, public – private collaborative, genetics research project initiated by the National Alliance for Autism Research and the National Institute of Health and is aimed at sifting through the human genome in search of autism susceptibility genes. The vision is to identify predisposition to Autism and to identify the causal mechanisms. A new born screening mechanism would allow for early intervention. AGP has identified a dozen autism related genes researched by 120 scientists from 11 countries. They indicate that two important gene networks in the central nervous system contribute to the susceptibility to autism, leading to impairments in social and communication skills. The estimated prevalence of autism in siblings is about 10%, while it is a whopping 90% in twins. However, although heredity plays a definite role, such children with autism are born only under certain environmental conditions, underlining the fact that unknown life-style changes trigger autism. The role of lack of exposure to enough Vit D in autism is being researched, especially in countries like Sweden. AGP has also revealed that Autism shares risk genes with major psychiatric disorders. Which leads to the question, whether searching for a cure for autism might lead to an early diagnosis of major psychiatric disorders, prevention and cures? It appears that the diagnosis of dyslexia is more common in underdeveloped countries. However, when this same gene pool is exposed to the life – style changes of a developed country the diagnosis of moderate to severe autism is observed.
Innate and Adaptive Immunity
There is a growing body of evidence linking Vit D to various immune related conditions including allergy and auto-immunity, but none show a convincing link, meaning there is a connecting missing link which remains to be discovered. Lack of Vit D would normally not cause diseases like autism but, given the presence of this missing link, lack of Vit D or specific life-style changes, one becomes predisposed to diseases like autism. Various diseases involve the innate and/or adaptive immune system:
Dr Belbedos and colleagues want to modulate the innate immune reaction in allergy and asthma therapy in young children.
Lyme disease is an innate immune reaction.
Measles suppreses both innate and adaptive.
Pertussis or whooping cough involves both innate and adaptive.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is different – see fatal tuberculosis , where an acquired immunity is not enough but an innate immune response additionally, is required. The MyD88 pathway is crucial to protect against this disease. 90% of infected people do not show any symptoms. What protects them?
Vitamin D initiates an innate immune reaction. Apparently, its role in adaptive immune response has been known, but not in innate immune response. Too much Vit D is bad.
The National Institute of Health has explained immunity and the immune response in an article and include a video on immune response and a video on vaccines. The definitions of innate, acquired and passive immunity are followed by a video; if you scroll down, you will see the videos.
Watch a video of a Pro-surfer, a father of an autistic son, and founder of a non-profit foundation school of Surfing for Autistic kids and how it makes them smile. Volunteers are pro-surfers.
A single shared component has been confirmed in allergy and autoimmune diseases
Proteins neuroligins and neurexins are important in Autism and Schizophrenia
G proteins: the connector proteins that try to prevent Autism Spectrum Disorder