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Pharmacologic Agents May Trigger Autism in a Genetically Predisposed Individual

The exact cause of autism is not known, but studies support a strong genetic predisposition of the disorder. The development of autism is traced to the presence of genetic abnormalities especially on the genes that affect the neural signaling in the brain. The presence of family history of autism may increase the risk of the development of the disorder in succeeding generations and twins also have a greater chance to have autism when the other twin is affected.

Along with genetics, environmental factors are also seen as causes of autism. This may include exposure of the pregnant mother to certain chemicals such as phthalates, pesticides, heavy metals, infectious diseases, phenols, smoking, alcohol, vaccines, flame retardants and other toxic substances. Pregnant mothers who are exposed to these factors during the first trimester when organogenesis or the formation of the brain takes place may have offspring with autism. However, there are no strong evidence of these occurrences.

The development of autism tends to happen during the early life as early as infancy. Signs of autism are usually observed even during infancy and the signs tend to manifest more as the child grows. Not all people with genetic predisposition to autism may develop the condition; however, a study revealed that normal people with genetic predisposition for autism may eventually develop the disorder when they are exposed to certain pharmacologic agents.

This finding was seen in a recent study conducted at the Idaho State University. The study involved the use of fathead minnows, a variety of fish, which have similar gene expression as humans in terms of autism. The study revealed that when these fish were exposed to certain pharmacologic agents, the gene expression profiles were affected, which is related to the development of autism.

These pharmacologic agents tend to be medications used to treat neurological disorders. These include fluoxetine, an antidepressant drug with a class of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor; carbamazepine, an anticonvulsant drug; and venlafaxine, a Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor.

The study further showed that these pharmacologic agents only affected the gene expression associated with autism spectrum disorders, which are largely genetically predisposed. In conclusion, these agents may just trigger autism in genetically predisposed individuals when taken in adequate amounts to cause autism.

While the exact cause of autism is unknown, it is essential that people know their family history of diseases in order to avoid potential risk factors that may lead to the development of disorders. In line with autism, people who have a family history of the disease should as much as possible avoid pharmacological and environmental agents that may trigger autism later in life. Also, pregnant mothers should also avoid these factors to ensure that their offspring may not develop the disorder especially when genetic predisposition is present.

Autism is not a disease that can just go away or can be treated. Autism is a lifelong disorder that may affect the learning abilities of children. Although the symptoms can be reduced and the child may have maximum abilities, preventing autism is still more essential.

About the Author

Dr. Amarendra, the author is freelance writer. He writes at dental implants and

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We ask to not be judged and yet…

When I started the project ‘Autism Understanding and Acceptance’, I did it with the intentions of helping those without Autistic children to better understand and accept people with Autism as well as the parents that do have children with Autism.

I knew though, that it also meant doing the same for parents that do have Autistic children. Far too often I’ve seen parents disagree, quite vocally and with much anger, where one has a child with Aspergers or “high functioning” Autism and the other has a child that is far lower on the spectrum, much more severe (nonverbal, not toilet trained, etc.).

A recent news story

This morning, I saw this news story where a woman abandoned her 10 year old, severely Autistic son to a hospital. He was just left there to wander the halls. When they found him and talked to her, it turned out that she was bi-polar, unemployed, has 2 other children, going through a divorce and being evicted.

Along with the story were a lot of comments, including extra comments from those who posted it on Facebook and so forth. Some were with some level of understanding while most were very judging…. some were even full of a lot of hate.

So I copied the link and shared it in a couple of places, asking what people thought… and one such place was my Autism Understanding and Acceptance fan page. I picked this place in particular for a reason.

The authorities press no charges, her peers do

In the article, it states that the authorities are not pressing charges. They are instead, focusing on the child and making sure that he gets the help and care he needs.

Parents on the other hand, not all, were pretty quick to pass judgment. Many stating “you just dont leave your kids” and “our kids aren’t throw-aways”.

Many parents, feeling for the child, imagine his loss, his confusion… he no longer has any semblance of his past routine, he no longer knows anyone at all and he no longer knows where he is. He must feel terrible and afraid.

How quick we are to judge

less judgingThe truth is though, that not one of us has walked a mile in her shoes. The truth is, not one of us knows her story, his story or what preceded that day.

The article tries to paint the picture with a quick list, as I did above (eviction, divorce, unemployed, etc) but that only gives us an idea.

The fact is that we don’t know how hard it really was for her, we don’t know for how long she struggled with this decision, who she talked to about it, what advice she was given, what her other choices were (or weren’t).

For that matter we don’t know what other assistance she tried to receive. Did she exhaust all of her financial options (there’s not always a lot of support from the government if you’re unemployed), did she exhaust all the options her local charities/groups could afford her? Did she get turned away from medical facilities for having no insurance or even for having her own disorder (bi-polar) to contend with?

We all know how hard it can be to get proper services and yet we’re quick to suggest that it would have been so simple for her to have the resources handed to her to avoid her having to resort to abandonment.

When you’ve met one child with Autism….

Another truth is, we don’t know just how hard it really was. I know it’s hard raising my 2 boys, one with Autism (not severe) and one without. This woman had 3 children… and one had severe Autism.

And in our minds, we can picture that… but some small part must also be saying “I don’t really know because I’ve never met him.” The reason for this is that it’s exactly what we tell teachers, doctors, professionals, other parents and everyone else when they tell you “I know what it’s like”…  no, they don’t, because each child is different.

Furthermore, each parent is different. Some people simply aren’t good parents. Some people are really NOT good with special needs children. Not everyone has the same patience, tolerance, understanding, stress, anxiety and coping levels that we might have.

Would I have been able to do better than her? Would I still be caring for that little boy? I’d like to think I could but you know what, I can’t say that. I can’t possibly know.

My children aren’t like hers. My situation isn’t like hers. My life isn’t like hers.

Understanding and Acceptance

It’s not exactly hypocritical but it’s pretty close, to judge this woman harshly and then ask others not to judge us.

When my son hits the floor at the grocery store, kicking and screaming, I deal as best I can but most likely I’m just paying the cashier to get us out of there. Other parents judge me. I can see it, I can hear it, I can feel it. And I hate it.

I make a very conscious and concerted effort to not judge others in the same way. When I see a screaming child, I look at the parent and smile. They know I’m thinking “It’s ok.. don’t worry about it.”

This situation is far more extreme but it’s no less different. We can not ask for others not to judge us all the while quickly, and vocally, judging another parent at the first media story we read of her.

Media stories seldom tell the whole story, media stories rarely are as accurate as they should be. But even still, from this media I can take a few points:

  • The child was 10 years old. That means that for 10 long years, she did her very best. She tried for everything she was worth and probably made huge sacrifices. Who knows how much the other 2 children missed out on while that boy needed so much attention. She didn’t just throw her hands up and give up on her first day.
  • We don’t know how hard it was. The article doesn’t say she was crying, but it doesn’t say she wasn’t sad about it either. It was very likely, one could assume, that it was a very very hard decision for her. After 10 long years, giving everything she had, she had to give him up and hope for the best.
  • She could have done far better than leaving him to just wander a random hospital but she could have also done much worse, take Casey Anthony’s story for example.

I would never give up my children but it doesn’t take a lot of television watching to realize that not everyone is parenthood material. Not everyone that has children should have children. And many of those people recognize that. It might not be right, but I can respect that. If they’re willing to do their best, and fail, and admit that they can’t do it.. I’d rather they gave up that child.

Adoption agencies are there for a reason. You can judge a person for giving up their child but for some people, they just have to. They aren’t you. The child may very well be better off with someone else than with a parent that only pretends to be a good parent… someone that may end up hating that child enough to do harm.

A person that snaps is a dangerous person. People can be pushed over the edge and that edge isn’t the same distance for everyone.

As part of understanding and acceptance, I recognize that not everyone can raise a special needs child. Not everyone can live through the same stresses that I can. Not everyone has it as easy or as hard as I do. And no one… not one person, is the same as me or my child.

Maybe I don’t always understand and maybe I can’t always accept… but that doesn’t give me the right to judge.

Understanding and Acceptance isn’t reserved for those without special needs children. I think we all could do with a little more of it.


Update 10:26am: This news piece shows the mother in court, explaining why she did it:

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Happening right now, it’s still Autism Awareness Month

I’ve been receiving a lot of emails recently, people offering me copies of movies, products to review, information on charity events, surveys or new book launches… it’s very obvious that it’s a busy month in the Autism community!

Short Survey

The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) is conducting an online poll concerning autism awareness and government policy. It’s only 3 questions, so please take a moment to give your input here:

Autism and Golf

On Saturday, April 30, the Tucson Autism Community Center is hosting its annual Autism Charity Golf Classic at the beautiful Tubac Golf Resort & Spa. The special guest will be Rodney Peete, NFL veteran quarterback and author of recent acclaimed book, “Not My Boy! A Father, A Son, & One Family’s Journey with Autism.” The book highlights Peete’s family’s experiences raising a child with autism and is told from the often unheard point of view of the father. All proceeds for the event will benefit the Tucson Alliance for Autism (TAFA). The weekend will incorporate other autism-related events as well.

The tournament will take place at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, a luxurious hotel with a state-of-the-art golf course (“Tin Cup” was filmed there) and world-class spa.

Big Daddy Autism wrote a book!

The truly remarkable part is that it’s not in crayon… there are some cartoons though.

This book takes a look at Autism from a father’s point of view but it also incorporates humour as it demonstrates that there really is a lighter side to Autism sometimes.

The book includes some of his blog posts from, some of his cartoon work as well as contributions from many other parents around the Autism community.

Read more about it and buy it here: Big Daddy’s Tales From the Lighter Side of Raising a Kid With Autism


Big Daddy's Tales From the Lighter Side of Raising a Kid With Autism

Big Daddy's Tales From the Lighter Side of Raising a Kid With Autism

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New Autism Treatment Drug, KM-391 is in Development

Read the original article here:

Now, I’m not a doctor nor a scientist, so obviously I can’t speak about exactly how effective this would be, but I have 2 concerns about it.

1. Serotonin levels are usually associated with depression, paxil and prozac and other depression medications usually work to elevate or level out your Serotonin levels in an effort to make you more ‘chemically balanced’ and thus, happier. Now, I know that Autism and Depression often go hand in hand but I seriously doubt that they’re linked medically/chemically. If a low Serotonin level can make you depressed, how can it also make you Autistic just some of the time?

2. If they do not have any clue what it is that causes Autism, how can they make a drug that treats it? The answer is, you can’t, well, unless you got real lucky! But ultimately you can’t hope to change the chemical balance of a human being to cure a disorder without knowing what, if any, chemical imbalance is causing it!

Now, it sounds to me that they could simply be developing a new anti-depressant which will ultimately make an Autistic person happier, and I do believe a happy Autistic is less likely to exhibit ‘Autistic like’ symptoms… it only stands to reason that being happier would mean less tantrums, violence and so forth.

But isn’t that really just a ploy then?? I mean, could we just be pumping our kids full of Prozac just as easily and calling that a treatment? If this new drug does the same thing as an anti-depressant… why not just use an anti-depressant?

I guess what I’m saying is, if you take a bottle of Evian water, and take off the label and stick on a “Premium, no fat, no calorie, no sugar, no salt weight loss beverage”… does that make it any more a diet aid?? Or is it still a bottle of water?

Again, I’m no doctor, not a scientist, just a guy at home reading up on this stuff, so if you know more than I do, or have your own opinions, please feel free to comment or go with what you believe.

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