Parents of children with autism feel a natural, but totally unwarranted, feeling of guilt. They cannot help but wonder if there were something they could have done to prevent their child’s conditions or even if they “gave” their son or daughter the condition genetically. In addition to guilt, there is the worry that without pinpointing a cause they may inflict the same challenges on subsequent offspring. Knowing the facts can help parents move past these feelings as well as provide the best help possible for their child.
Presently, the best estimation is that 20 percent of autism has traceable genetic roots. Regardless of whether parents wish to know which of their DNA contributed to their child’s condition, finding a genetic link can be helpful. A genetic connection can do more than aid parents in making family planning decisions. It can also provide valuable information on options for treatment and possible secondary conditions that may affect the child due to the genetic abnormalities that contributed to the autism.
While parents may be hesitant to know the cause of their child’s autism out of guilt, it is important to note that a genetic problem is not necessarily inherited but may be of a spontaneous nature. Finding the genetic cause of a child’s autism is the first step in helping them live their life to the fullest. Once the specific genetic abnormality is pinpointed, and the particular affect on the brain determined, a course of treatment can be prescribed.
Genetic testing on siblings of an affected child can predict the development of autism before symptoms appear, allowing for quicker treatment. Doing everything possible to determine the cause, pathway and effect of any condition, autism included, enables the best treatment and outcome possible.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.