The Link Between Autism And Autism

1580 WordsJan 22, 20177 Pages
Introduction There have been several controversies regarding the cause of autism over the years. For example, the main cause was assumed by some to be bad parenting. Today, however, there is general agreement that the symptoms of autism, with the exception of those of abandoned children, are a behavioral response by young children to an organic disease affecting their brains. In fact, it is now generally understood that autism is a complex developmental syndrome representing a heterogeneous group of disorders with similar symptoms, but with different biological etiologies. Realizing that autism does not have a single cause has been important for enhancing the understanding of its etiologies, prevention and treatment. There have been many…show more content…
The Biology of Autism A great deal of research and funding has been devoted to understanding the cause of autism. Scientific studies presently are focusing on identifying neurotransmitter abnormalities, metabolic, genetic and environmental factors, involvement of the immune system, and structural and functional changes in the brain. Neurotransmitter abnormalities Some studies are characterizing involvement of the neurotransmitter serotonin in autism (Chugani, 2002; Piven et al., 1991; Veenstra-Vander Weele, Anderson & Cook, 2000) and genetic factors affecting serotonin metabolism (Williams et al., 2003). Serotonin levels are higher in children and begin to decline during puberty. Many persons with autism have elevated levels of serotonin in their blood platelets, suggesting that people with autism might have a defect in the gene that produces the serotonin transporter the protein that removes serotonin from the space between two nerve cells. Supporting the hypothesis that abnormalities of serotonin metabolism are frequent in autism is the finding that depletion of tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin) in the diet worsens behavior in a substantial fraction of autistic children tested (McDougle,
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