Autism's Possible Genetic Cause Comes to Light in New Study

Her son is a high-functioning and does well in school, but trying to manage his condition every day is challenging.

"He has trouble carrying on a conversation," she said. "He can't follow along with me when we're talking."

She also has to bring him to a special school that's 45 minutes away from their home, and afterward, she brings him to special sports programs and other activities to help stimulate him.

Keeping him focused is another challenge.

"He requires a lot of redirection. He can get obsessed with certain toys or items, and I have to interrupt his play," she said.

And while this current study doesn't have any impact on her now, she hopes it can eventually lead to new treatments for children with autism.

Could Autism Findings Improve Treatment?

The researchers and medical experts hope for the same thing.

"Hopefully, we can treat many gene disruptions the same way and will be able to develop a general class of treatments down the road," said Cantor, one of the co-authors.

"It can improve treatment if research can demonstrate that certain genetic patterns respond preferentially to certain treatment approaches," said Krug.

But at least one other doctor believes treatments should be aimed at early intervention.

"What is most needed are strategies to identify kids early whose development is not on target and intervene," said Dr. Shlomo Shinnar, a professor of neurology, pediatrics and epidemiology and population health at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is not affiliated with the current study.

For parents like Megan Brown, it's definitely another step in the right direction.

"It's just encouraging that they just keep going and that organizations are never going to give up," she said. "That, to me, is worth supporting."

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