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Biotech Science

Mice Cured of Autism 233

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the of-mice-and-men dept.
noahisaac writes "My brother just sent me an article he posted for the Rett Syndrome Research Foundation about a cure for Rett Syndrome, a form of autism. According to the article, researchers successfully re-introduced a fully functional version of the MECP2 gene into mice that had been born with damaged MECP2 genes. Contrary to their expectations, the mice improved. In the article's words, 'restoration of fully functional MECP2 over a four week period eradicated tremors and normalized breathing, mobility and gait in mice that had previously been fully symptomatic and, in some cases, only days away from death.' The ramifications for people suffering from Rett Syndrome are obvious, but mutations of the MECP2 gene are also believed to be the cause of 'classic' autism, and a number of other neurological disorders."
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Mice Cured of Autism

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  • by User 956 (568564) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:09PM (#17942666) Homepage
    The ramifications for people suffering from Rett Syndrome are obvious, but mutations of the MECP2 gene are also believed to be the cause of 'classic' autism, and a number of other neurological disorders."

    So they're saying this will cure people of World of Warcraft?
    • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:40PM (#17942964)
      Actually, a cure for WOW is in development. You can check it out how the cure is coming along here [diablo3.com]
    • In most cases-only if you use a mouse for your pointing device. Those of us who use trackpads are SOL.

      Sorry. In fact, my first reaction to the headline was Mice Cured Who? of Autism, picturing some kind of regimen designed to help human by engaging them with software.

    • by Chapter80 (926879)
      On the downside, these "cured" mice couldn't speak, function at parties or hold down even minimum wage jobs. So I'd be skeptical about this cure's applicability to humans.
    • While Rett's syndrome falls into the rubric of pervasive developmental disorders, it is not technically considered a form of autism, but in fact often mistaken for autism at time of diagnosis. This is because the victims develop normally for the first 12-24 months of life then have rapid loss of social and cognitive skills. Another point is that the overwhelming majority of the patients are female because it is felt the genetic defect is lethal in utero in males and those males that are born generally die i
  • Algernon (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:09PM (#17942668)
    please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:11PM (#17942680) Homepage Journal
    If there is a cure for autism - and it's close cousin, aspergers - then most of us on slashdot will get a life.
  • by andy314159pi (787550) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:11PM (#17942682) Journal
    How much will the treatment cost Rainman?
    "About a hundred dollars."
  • by rowlingj (118872) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:12PM (#17942688)
    In other news, a nerdy engineer turns into a superb personnel manager after the genes are corrected. The only problem is the manager now has no way of understanding the code and schematics previously thought to be "fully documented".
  • by jhantin (252660) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:13PM (#17942698)
    So they spliced a stop codon into the middle of the relevant gene to disable it, then delivered an enzyme all the way to cell nuclei (!) to delete what they spliced in. The next step then it seems is then to find or engineer a proper enzyme to patch a naturally occurring gene defect -- they've basically proven that runtime patching of the genome works. Nice.
    • by DrKyle (818035) on Friday February 09, 2007 @01:01AM (#17944986)
      All they have proven is that turning the gene back on can alleviate the disease. This is no closer to a cure than any other single gene disease that could be fixed by putting a good copy in. Not only that but most autism has nothing to do with this mutation, most autistics are male and only females get Rett syndrome. The title and summary are the biggest load of non-biologists trying to write about biology I've read in months.
      • by jhantin (252660)

        All they have proven is that turning the gene back on can alleviate the disease. This is no closer to a cure than any other single gene disease that could be fixed by putting a good copy in.

        So Rett syndrome is a candidate for gene therapy, if the issues with gene therapy can be hammered out...

        The title and summary are the biggest load of non-biologists trying to write about biology I've read in months.

        If you haven't noticed by now, this whole site is the second biggest load of non-xists trying to wr

      • by Khyber (864651)
        I think jhantin was referring to the idea that if you can fix a broken gene, you could break a fixed gene to cause a desirable effect.

        Or perhaps I'm just too tired from standing up managing a flow line all night. I dunno, is it Friday, yet?
      • by SigILL (6475)
        Actually, if I understood correctly, Rett syndrome is X-linked and thus affects both males and females. However, males have only one X chromosome, and are therefore so heavily affected that they're generally stillbirths.

        Besides, this gene therapy only fixes the outward symptoms of Rett syndrome (tremors and such), not necessarily the cognitive problems (which are hard to measure in mice anyway).
    • So they spliced a stop codon into the middle of the relevant gene to disable it, then delivered an enzyme all the way to cell nuclei (!) to delete what they spliced in. The next step then it seems is then to find or engineer a proper enzyme to patch a naturally occurring gene defect -- they've basically proven that runtime patching of the genome works. Nice.

      No. Run-of-the-mill. Cre-lox is a standard system in molecular biology (discovered back in the '80s, first used in mice in the early '90s, IIRC), and has been used countless times to perform gene knock-out experiments. The idea of using a knock-in approach to create a disfunctional gene and then lox out the stop codon to make it functional again might be a little unusual and elegant, but I doubt that it's novel.

      Rather, the take-home message of the research was that autism could be reversed at all. To

  • Misleading title (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wuhao (471511) * on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:14PM (#17942710)
    The rats never had autism -- they had Rett syndrome, which was cured. Why does the poster seem to feel that the results here can be generalized to a similar disorder, when it's not even well understood why it even worked for the first?
  • Good job! Nice to hear of such groundbreaking discoveries! This made my day!
  • Girls only (Score:3, Informative)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:16PM (#17942736) Homepage Journal
    Men, apparently, need not apply- these specific behaviors are female symptoms mostly. I wonder, though- is this the cause of the difference between heavy metal poisoning causing autism and genetics causing autism?

    From TFA: * Rett Syndrome (RTT) is a severe childhood neurological disorder, diagnosed almost exclusively in girls. The most physically disabling of the autism spectrum disorders, RTT strikes at random, affecting an estimated 1 in every 10,000 females.
    * First symptoms usually appear between 6 to 18 months of age. Development slows or begins to regress. Children at this stage may exhibit the social withdrawal often seen in autism, or cry inconsolably for months as previously acquired language and motor skills disappear. In classic RTT, this regression is accompanied by the onset of constant, compulsive hand wringing and the loss of all functional hand use. The progression of symptoms varies across the RTT spectrum. Many children become wheelchair bound; those who walk display an abnormal stiff-legged gait.
    * As the disease progresses, abnormal voluntary and involuntary movements reflect increasing neurological deficits. The children suffer apraxia, the inability to organize voluntary movement. Parkinson-like tremors are common, as are disordered breathing patterns and problems with chewing and swallowing. Some children require feeding tubes or supplementary oxygen. Abnormal brain wave patterns are present in RTT; a percentage of the children experience seizures.
    * The only autism spectrum disorder with a known genetic cause, RTT results from mutations in the gene MECP2. This gene was first discovered by Adrian Bird, Ph.D in 1990. MECP2 regulates the expression of other genes by turning them off at the appropriate time.
    * Mutations in MECP2 were identified as the cause of RTT in 1999 in the lab of Huda Zoghbi, M.D. MECP2 mutations are now being seen in some cases of childhood schizophrenia, classic autism and learning disabilities.
    • Re:Girls only (Score:4, Informative)

      by samkass (174571) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:49PM (#17943060) Homepage Journal
      is this the cause of the difference between heavy metal poisoning causing autism and genetics causing autism

      It's not been shown that heavy metal poisoning causes autism. Poisoning with lead or mercury can have neurological symptoms that are similar to autism, but removing the heavy metal and flushing it from the body causes rapid improvement in the poisoning patients, while autism has no cure. The mistaken belief that they're the same thing led a lot of parents to stop immunizing, despite every single reproducible study showing no link between the mercury-based compound that used to be found in such immunizations and autism. To wit, autism continues to gradually become more common despite the fact that mercury has now been completely removed from childhood vaccines.

      The only statistically significant environmental link found so far to the onset of true autism cases that I've seen was a study that showed that the rollout of cable television appeared to be correlated to a moderate rise in autism in the neighborhoods and time periods of the rollout during the 80's.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Odineye (989253)
        Kudos to you for pointing out the lack of any evidence of a link between heavy metal poisoning and autism. For the record, the television study you refer to showed absolutely no link between the viewing habits of children and autism. It was, in fact, a very shoddy study that extrapolated a link by correlating the time frame during which cable came out with the rise in autism by attempting to correlate the weather with television watching (assuming that higher rates of rainy weather meant that children wer
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by swmpthng (1061348)
      The reason why it's just girls is because the gene is carried on the X chromosome- therefore, girls can carry a functional copy on the other X chromosome, but most guys (not counting Klinefelter types) don't have that option. Males who inherit the bad X die in infancy. I'm guessing that people figured out their deceased baby boys had the RTT problem via genetic testing. See 'Gender and Rett Syndrome' here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rett_syndrome [wikipedia.org] .
  • Watch your words (Score:5, Informative)

    by Raindance (680694) * <johnsonmx@gm a i l .com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:17PM (#17942746) Homepage Journal
    MECP2 as "the cause" of autism is overblown-- scientists have isolated several genetic areas that are somewhat probable contributors toward developing autism, but
    1. Autism is definitely caused by the contributions of many genes;
    2. There are various ways autism presents itself- presumably due to varying genetic contributions. Rett Syndrome is (in my understanding) an atypically (genetically) simple form of autism.
    • by asuffield (111848)

      MECP2 as "the cause" of autism is overblown-- scientists have isolated several genetic areas that are somewhat probable contributors toward developing autism, but
      1. Autism is definitely caused by the contributions of many genes;
      2. There are various ways autism presents itself- presumably due to varying genetic contributions. Rett Syndrome is (in my understanding) an atypically (genetically) simple form of autism.

      And they still haven't come up with any actual proof that such a thing as autism even exists.

      The

  • by Y-Crate (540566) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:17PM (#17942754)
    Self-diagnosed Aspergers sufferers will suddenly find themselves without any excuse for their behavior.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:30PM (#17942862)
    Obligatory Douglas Adams:

          And far away in some distant dimension, some pan-dimensional hyperintelligent beings have suddenly become extremely anti-social, developed a limp, and are currently wondering if this search for the ultimate question is worth all the bother...
  • Jim Sinclair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:31PM (#17942872)
    From: http://www.autistics.org/library/dontmourn.html [autistics.org]

    Autism isn't something a person has, or a "shell" that a person is trapped inside. There's no normal child hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence. It is not possible to separate the autism from the person--and if it were possible, the person you'd have left would not be the same person you started with.

    This is important, so take a moment to consider it: Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.

    Therefore, when parents say,

            "I wish my child did not have autism,"

    what they're really saying is,

            "I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead."

    Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Capitalist1 (127579)
      Damn, I wish my kid had been born alive. I know it would be a completely different kid, but, you know, it might have been better for him. // no kids, alive or otherwise.. just making a point
    • by f1055man (951955)
      thanks. My post was going to be much sloppier. Autism and Aspergers aren't cancer, it's a way of being and a "cure" is a threat to the identity of autistics.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin
      http://youtube.com/results?search_query=woman+co w&search=Search
      • by smclean (521851)
        Hey, in my opinion, the difference between "cure" and "undesirable change" or "brainwashing" is purely subjective. If someone comes up and tells you autism has ruined their life, who are you to say that it hasn't? It's all a word game.
        • Re:Jim Sinclair (Score:4, Interesting)

          by f1055man (951955) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:53PM (#17943610)
          Before I edited my post I had mentioned that a "cure for autism" is ethically murky. My point is simply that the response to this news should not be unfettered enthusiasm. There are similar ethical debates within the deaf community. Frankly, I think that the problem is not that scientists provide the option of altering oneself, but that these advances in medicine and technology are often couched in paternalism. It's "we can fix you; make you normal" rather than "here's an option". Some day normal will mean having biotech augmentations of some sort. An exciting option, but if someone tells me that they can fix my product of evolution body I might be a little pissed. Try telling a flat chested woman that those can be "fixed" and see what happens. Many autistics have a similar view.
          • OK, I understand how being autistic can give people neurological advantages, but deafness? If they're deaf from birth and the brain never developed to understand sound, then I can see wanting to be cautious, but if that setback can be fixed, how is the person not better off for having the capacity of hearing?
            • OK, I understand how being autistic can give people neurological advantages, but deafness? If they're deaf from birth and the brain never developed to understand sound, then I can see wanting to be cautious, but if that setback can be fixed, how is the person not better off for having the capacity of hearing?

              The issue is that there has developed the attitude among (some) deaf people that being deaf and speaking sign have created a deaf community and culture separate (or at least equally valid) as that of

              • It's not difficult to distinguish at all though. The ability to perceive sound is better than the lack of said ability. There's no tradeoff. Being gay, you trade off screwing women in favor of screwing guys. Being asexual, you trade off not having sex for not needing sex. But deafness is the least tradeoffable thing there is.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by QueenOfSwords (179856)
        Well... thats fine for all of you higher functioning types on the spectrum (and the Slashdot Self-Diagnosed Aspergers Posse) but many autistics are *severely* disabled, with no speech, and no chance of an independant life. You can choose not to be treated or 'cured', and that's fine, as your condition is managable. But this could mean that some severely disabled people get the chance to express themselves and *have* an identity.

        This experiment won't 'cure' autism directly, but it will provide data that migh
    • word games... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hell, you could make that argument for ANYTHING.

      Therefore, when parents say,

                      "I wish my child did not have the flu,"

      what they're really saying is,

                      "I wish the sneezing, sniffling child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-flu-having) child instead."

      Duh.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NeuralSpike (968001)
      Finally, someone with a reasonable perspective! Thank you for your post. For all of you who don't know, autism--as far as we can tell-- involves the inability of the prefrontal cortex to integrate perception properly. This leads to difficulty in language to the point that most if not all autistic people do not think in linguistic fashion, but rather think visually. Furthermore, the obsession with specific details arises from this; it is as if an autistic individual sees all of what is in his or her visu
    • Mod Parent up.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pwizard2 (920421)
      ...If I had the mod points I would do it myself.

      I have been officially diagnosed with Aspergers and I can attest to much of what the parent has stated.

      If I had been born with a typical neural system I would not be the person that I am today. True, I spent time (and still do) obsessively pursuing new interests while other people were busy making friends, but those things that I learn are all useful and many of them allow me to earn a decent income. In fact, I suspect having Aspergers allows me to becom
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Belfry_Bats (1061788)
      That's the most absurd and soppy thing I've read all day.

      It may be true for high functioning autistic children, but it's cruel to put guilt trips on parents who have autistic kids who can't speak or be potty-trained for wishing their beloved children were not stricken with such a horrible disorder. It's a 'way of being' as much as Down Syndrome is.

      (and I speak as someone with (diagnosed) Asperger's and two severely autistic siblings.)
      • by asuffield (111848)

        It may be true for high functioning autistic children, but it's cruel to put guilt trips on parents who have autistic kids who can't speak or be potty-trained for wishing their beloved children were not stricken with such a horrible disorder. It's a 'way of being' as much as Down Syndrome is.

        The point which you are failing to make is that "autism" doesn't exist, and is just a lumping-together of many, many different traits that look similar to the educated observed who hasn't carefully studied them. Some of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think to state such a thing as Therefore, when parents say, "I wish my child did not have autism," what they're really saying is, "I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead." shows a very limited understanding of self. Besides that, I think in most cases, when parents say "I wish my child did not have autism," what they really mean is, "Gosh, my child sure does look unhappy, I'm betting from the fact that they struggle just to
    • Re:Jim Sinclair (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bri2000 (931484) on Friday February 09, 2007 @07:22AM (#17946620)
      I understand your point. However as someone who's life has been ruined by Asperger's Syndrome I have to say there are other perspectives.

      I was seriously bullied and discriminated against at school (by teachers and pupils) and all through university and subsequent life, I have literally no friends or anyone to talk to outside of immediate family members, no chance of ever being in a loving relationship as the only women prepared to have anything to do with me turn out to be menatally ill - seriously, of the two women who've slept with me one turned out to be a schizophrenic and the other had Munchausen syndrome - and a career which has stalled due not to a lack of ability but rather to my inability to connect with people and the fact everyone at work finds me just so damn weird. As a result of these and other problems connected with my AS I now, at the age of 35, suffer from chronic intractable depression. I was, in fact, formally diagnosed with AS after being referred to a consultant psychiatrist for depression last year.

      I fully acknowledge that if I did not have AS I would not be the same individual that I am. That does not bother me. So far as I'm concerned AS has caused me to have a life that is not really worth living and I would have been quite happy (in so far as that concept has meaning when discussing an emotional reaction to non-existence) for someone else, with a slightly different set of genes to me who would have been better at life and enjoyed it a little more, to have taken my place (my therapist hates this line of argument btw - we have huge rows about whether people who say they are happy with AS really believe what they say or are just fooling themselves in a desperate attempt to bolster their self esteem and playing the "noble, stoic cripple" role that society prefers its handicapped members to adopt). If there was a cure I would jump at it.

      I also have to say that, although it's a moot point (see above), if I did ever find a woman willing to breed with me, having had the life I've had and having gone through what I've gone through I would seek genetic counselling and take whatever steps were available to prevent any child of mine from being born with AS (or any other form of autism). I know that the question of whether a bad existence is better than non-existence is extremely difficult from a theoretical perspective but, so far as I'm concerned, if you bring child into the world who you know will have a hellish existence and you could have prevented it, you've done wrong.

      • Okay, now -- I understand your point, but don't judge others. I have AS as well, but I feel that it is an important part of my self, my life, and my current happiness. I've even gone so far as to remark to my wife that if our kids won't have Asperger's Syndrome, I'd just as soon not have any.

        My childhood was miserable. I was depressed, and often suicidal, from a very young age. However, in spite of my environment, I grew out of it. I firmly believe that I could be a better and happier person if I had

  • wait a minute!!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by neo8750 (566137) <zepskiNO@SPAMzepski.net> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:36PM (#17942924) Homepage
    "Rett Syndrome was first recognized by Andreas Rett in 1966 and is a neurological disorder affecting primarily females. Autopsies on the brains of these individuals indicate a pathology different than autism; however, children afflicted with Rett Syndrome often exhibit autistic-like behaviors, such as repetitive hand movements, prolonged toe walking, body rocking, and sleep problems."

    Here [autism.org] is the source of this info.

  • damn mice! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:38PM (#17942938) Homepage
    They keep curing the mice!!! what about us humans? ... :-) [yes this is a joke].
    • [yes this is a joke]
      Duh... no need to point that, we get the joke. What do you think we are? Autistic?!
    • by Kredal (566494)
      Isn't your "joke" disclaimer something like a laugh track? Maybe we shouldn't pay attention to your posts, when you have to point out to the audience when they should laugh...

      Just a thought.
  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @08:43PM (#17942990) Journal
    They've reversed (something like) Rett Syndrome in mice, showing that the nerve malfunctioning is reversable. In humans, however, missing vital developmental milestones is not reversable. E.g. normally we acquire grammar by age three, but if for some reason we don't acquire it before the age of about 10, we never will (or only very poorly.) So even if this treatment transfers to humans, it is unlikely to be a complete miracle cure for adult Rett Syndrome (or autistic) people.

    Here's [newscientist.com] another article about it.

  • Congratulations to the all the Universities & Research Institutions & all their staff involved.

    The U.S. & Canada have terrific engineers and bio-researchers, but we need even more, yet we are not increasing students in these arenas, we are seeing declines in most notes I see (decidedly unscientific, I am). And it starts with parents.

    Some parents don't care, and others take a "social" position of telling their kids to become something "popular" like a Lawyer. I have a god-daughter who is a stra
    • by nomadic (141991)
      Some parents don't care, and others take a "social" position of telling their kids to become something "popular" like a Lawyer. I have a god-daughter who is a straight A student, and she is already thinking she wants to be a lawyer. The last survey I heard in So. Cal. was that about 2 out of 3 lawyers there would pick another occupation if they "knew what they know now" and could do it over again.

      I went into law because it was one of the few reasonably lucrative careers that played into my strengths--hist
  • What then? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Okay, hypothetically, you cure someone from a form of autism. What then? There's still a social aspect to behavior, one that having whatever syndrome on the autistic spectrum is sure to leave a hole in. Who knows, on human patients who have grown up with, say, Asperger's, does anyone really know if their life will improve? They may already be beyond the socialization phase. There could be some kind of 'social shock' following this supposed cure. Nonetheless, we're probably a long ways of from seeing an
  • by mshurpik (198339) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:38PM (#17943478)
    >mutations of the MECP2 gene are also believed to be the cause of 'classic' autism, and a number of other neurological disorders.

    Classic autism aside, I think a lot of people are suffering from a sociological autism that will *not* be improved by gene therapy. What is autism exactly, is there a definition? I can imagine one, but I'm not sure everyone is on the same page with this relatively new disease.

    In other words, I don't think gene therapy will get my dad to shop at designer clothing stores, get his car tuned, or hire contractors to improve his house.
  • Yawn... (Score:4, Funny)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @09:54PM (#17943634) Homepage
    Wake me up when they've cured altruism.

    Oh wait...
  • With all the medicine advances for mice, they might even conquer the world eventually.
  • Heck, the "organic" food crowd would have you believe, that eating genetically modified foods may be gravely dangerous to you and the humanity.

    I would've ignored this crowd for the loons they are, yet, unfortunately, for well-grown food to be given the coveted "Organic" label, it has to be made from non-GM ingredients. That's just annoying — and gratuitously more expensive.

    Yet here they are talking about genetically modifying people directly... Why are we willing to modify a sick person's genes, b

  • by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @11:15PM (#17944298) Homepage Journal
    I just wanted to say three things:

    • I am autistic.
    • I have personality quirks I normally keep under control.
    • I do not want my personality "fixed."
    • by bri2000 (931484)
      Good for you.

      I have AS, it's ruined my life and I would like nothing more than to be cured (while acknowledging that, even if such a thing were possible, I'd almost certainly be too old for it to make any difference. You mention keeping your personality quirks under control but I've always found that's the easy part. How do you deal with the isolation and loneliness engendered by the inability to talk to people or make conversation about anything other than technical subjects? That's the part that has me

  • Multiply Determined (Score:2, Informative)

    by Odineye (989253)
    Genetic studies are showing fairly clearly now that there is no single gene implicated in autism. When different people are tested, it shows involvement in multiple chromosomes, and in multiple different sites on the same chromosome in different people. There is considerably variability from one person to another. As others have mentioned above, Rett's is different in presentation and likely etiology than other forms of autism. This study likely has limited relevance to treatment of any form of autism o
  • That sounds FUCK great!
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Friday February 09, 2007 @06:21AM (#17946384)
    ...to play the mouse in the film version.
  • by B5_geek (638928) on Friday February 09, 2007 @07:41AM (#17946708)
    I have read a fascinating book called "Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon that deals with this subject matter.

    Amazon clip:

      Corporate life in early 21st-century America is even more ruthless than it was at the turn of the millennium. Lou Arrendale, well compensated for his remarkable pattern-recognition skills, enjoys his job and expects never to lose it. But he has a new boss, a man who thinks Lou and the others in his building are a liability. Lou and his coworkers are autistic. And the new boss is going to fire Lou and all his coworkers--unless they agree to undergo an experimental new procedure to "cure" them.

    The short version: Autistics all have gifts that we just don't recognize, what if they don't want to be 'cured'

  • Hallelujah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Friday February 09, 2007 @10:06AM (#17948046) Homepage Journal
    I'm one of presumably the minority of people with autism (I was diagnosed at 16 with NLD [nlda.org] after the usual traumatic experience with the neurotypical education system) who'd love to be cured myself, if such a thing became available. Autism is a genetic aberration and a curse, for the most part, and needs to be seen as such. Being autistic is neither glamorous or enjoyable, and the only people who try and see it as a blessing are those who wish to gain some extra privelege over and above the normal population, as members of yet another minority. The neurotypical population sees us as the proverbial sewer-dwelling mutants for a reason; it's because we genuinely are.

    I've also written numerous times that I believe that the overwhelming predominance of autism in the Linux community is the single main thing holding Linux as an operating system back. Autistics who use Linux (Stallman being primary among them) believe that their philosophical view is morally superior, when I feel that in reality it (particularly the degree of repetitive consistency of the message over time) is simply a result of their neurological disability.

    The "five freedoms" aren't things Linux users care about so strongly because they're people with an inherently more developed moral sense than most people, or because of the inherent moral value of the ideas; they're things that Linux users care about to that degree because autism causes rote, uncontrollable fixations with certain concepts or areas of interest, sometimes on a long term basis. In some kids with Asperger's it's trains or a collection of toilet brushes. In the case of Stallman and the Debian developers, it's a perverted definition of software freedom. The fixation is with an abstract concept rather than physical objects, but that's about the only difference.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein

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