Saturday, September 24, 2011
Clinic Notes: Different Strains of Autism
In previous blogs I have discussed that obvious variability that exist in the behavior of the children with an autism diagnosis who come to our clinic. The Autism Spectrum ranges from children at one end who are low functioning to children at the other end who are high functioning children with autism and Asperger’s. It has never been clear if we are dealing with one disorder with varies in its severity or multiple disorders. A recent study form the University of California Davis MIND Institute sheds some light on this. In a study that started in 2006, brain growth, exposure to environmental variables, and genetic factors were examined. The 350 children in the study ranged in age from 2 to 31/2. Two sub types of autism were identified. A group of boys with enlarged brains developed normally until 18 months of age and then regressed into an autism diagnosis. Another group did not regress but showed sighs of autism early and had compromised immune systems. The investigators theorized that other subtypes would emerge in future studies. Of course identifying groups early would allow clinicians, such as myself, to individualize treatment plans.