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Is Autism a Hereditary Or Contracted Disease?

I don't want to sound strange but I was wondering since Autism is a genetic condition what should I do to "protect" my family: my sister was mentioning that perhaps she should start searching more into this matter since Autism is on the rise we were wondering how can we go asking my sister's future son-in-law if Autism runs in his family or any other genetic condition?


Asked by Anonymous at 12:08 PM on Jun. 17, 2009 in General Parenting

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Answers (7)
  • The latest scientific research has narrowed down an "autism gene" to be located somewhere within 4 strands of DNA. There is NO GENETIC MARKER or test that will identify in advance ones predisposition to the developmental disability.

    I highly doubt that an ACCURATE genetic test will be made available anytime soon...even long-standing triple/quadruple genetic screens have been known to have many false positives. The problem with detecting autism is that there is a WIDE range of disabilities and it all depends WHERE in the brain the damage occurs and at which point in the gestation period that will determine the severity of the disability.

    Disabilities like Downs Syndrome have a consistent marker...either it's there or it's not.

    Answer by LoriKeet at 12:32 PM on Jun. 17, 2009

  •, this web site may help you learn more about autism

    Answer by vgiron at 12:15 PM on Jun. 17, 2009

  • Honestly, you really won't have any way of knowing b/c there are no consistent genetic markers for Autism Spectrum Disorders. In other words, not every child who receives an ASD diagnosis will have any genetic markers found to be associated with having an ASD. Also, it is believed by many that, while a child may have a genetic predisposition to develop symptoms of having an ASD, it takes something else to trigger the expression of said symptoms, so even if you knew the potential was there, you wouldn't necessarily know what, specifically, would trigger the expression of the disorder. And, there is also that many believe that it is our environment that is contributing to the rise in ASD diagnoses, so again, unless you live in a completely controlled environment that protects you from every toxic chemical on the planet, there will always be a chance for a child to develop symptoms of having an ASD.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:38 PM on Jun. 17, 2009

  • LoriKeet

    Answer by LoriKeet at 12:44 PM on Jun. 17, 2009

  • Part of the reason Autism seems like its on the rise is because Doctors and Special education professionals are getting better at recognizing the disorder and the differences within it. Many years ago autism was not understood as good as it is today so it was misdiagnosed often as Mental retardation or add/adhd or behavioral disorders like ocd or odd. Now, doctors are realizing the broad spectrum of what is Autism and therefore more children are correctly being diagnosed. It's not that Autism is on the rise, these children have always been around, its that the correct diagnosis of autism is on the rise. If you look at the number of children being diagnosed with behavioral disorders its decreasing. Its not because there are less behavioral kids its because these wrongly diagnosed children now have the correct diagnosis of autism.

    Answer by ba13ygrl1987 at 1:09 PM on Jun. 17, 2009

  • If you're seriously interested in learning more about Autism try:


    No it's not a contracted disease you can't catch it like the flu (I acutally had a woman ask me that when I took my son into his kindergarten class! She didn't want her neurotypical son 'coming down' with Autism UGH!).

    Answer by BlueCollarMama at 1:47 PM on Jun. 17, 2009

  • You cannot catch autism. They are working on locating the autism gene (they have concluded there is one but haven't pinpointed it exactly yet) so you cannot get tested for it. The only way to try and make an educated guess as to whether or not future children will have autism is to look at past generations and see if they may have been autistic but never diagnosed (since autism wasn't really diagnosed before 1990).

    However, I must ask, what does it matter if there are genetic conditions that run in his family? Is anyone going to love the children any less? Sorry, I just take a bit offense to that since my one son and I (and probably my husband and baby) have autism.

    Answer by purpleducky at 1:53 PM on Jun. 17, 2009

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