Autism and Down Syndrome

Over the last five years I have spent a fair amount of my time working with children with disabilities. I have learned a lot about many disabilities but there are some that have no known cause and no known cure. Two of the conditions that interest me the most and that can even show up as a pair are autism and down syndrome. Both of these are curious conditions and leave doctors and researchers stumped time after time. There are many theories surrounding autism and its origins and if there is a way to cure it or to help those with autism to function on a higher level. And while the cause of down syndrome is known, no one yet knows how to prevent it or reverse it once it is detected.

Many support the notion that autism is linked to genetics, but also believe that isn’t the sole cause. Others believe that autism is related to the vaccinations that so many of us receive when we are 2 or 3 years of age. Still others press that a gluten free and wheat free diet can cure autism, or at least dampen its symptoms. Autism is known as a spectrum disorder, meaning that it comes in forms of mild to severe, and it is also closely related to asperger’s syndrome.

Down syndrome, on the other hand, has a known cause. People with down syndrome have a total of 47 chromosomes rather than the normal 46. It can be detected during the first few months of prenancy. The risk for having a child with down syndrome increases if the mother is older than 35 or if a couple has already had a child with down syndrome. There is no treatment, only ways to assist children with the medical difficulties that they face.

As both autism and down syndrome are some how linked to genetics I thought it would be an appropriate topic for prenatal development. I believe that either or both of these may not have a cure, and we may never be able to pinpoint what causes autism. I do think, however, that it is worth the time to figure it out and understand it better, and hopefully completely. Perhaps one day autism will be a thing of the past, and deleting an extra chromosome will be no problem. But until then it is something to be concerned about and something to be familiar with.

If you would like to learn more about autism or down syndrome, here are some helpful links:

https://www.google.com/health/ref/Autism

http://www.autismspeaks.org/

https://www.google.com/health/ref/Down+syndrome

http://www.ndss.org/

–Melinda Perkins

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~ by fairydust4ever on September 7, 2009.

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