Four years ago my son Tyler was diagnosed with fragile X and last year he qualified for an autism label while being tested in school. In the past year, ground-breaking research has uncovered precise genetic links between autism and Fragile X syndrome giving families like mine hope that treatment for many of the core symptoms of both conditions is on the horizon. New drugs currently in clinical trials have been shown to have a significant effect on reducing the symptoms of severe social impairment in people with autism or fragile x syndrome.
Many families across the country are participating in these exciting trials. Reducing repetitive behaviors and improving social skills would allow individual’s impacted by fragile x and autism like Tyler to lead lives that are more independent. While most people know about autism and autism spectrum disorders, not as many are aware of fragile x syndrome. Fragile X is closely related to autism. Fragile X is the most common inherited cause of intellectual disabilities in males, and is the most common genetic cause of autism.
Just this past Wednesday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new prevalence numbers for autism. They are now reporting 1 in 50 kids are in some manner on the spectrum. It is imperative that the advancements made through these ground-breaking research projects continue to be built upon. My Wife Jammie and I recently returned from Washington, D.C., where we and almost 200 other advocates met with members of Congress to raise awareness of fragile X, this breakthrough research and its potential. Wise stewardship of federal research dollars would encourage continued investment and expand the scope of research into the links between fragile X and autism.
Not only have the recent drug trials shown great promise but also this week it was reported Neuroscientists at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have reversed autism in adult mice. As reported by Deborah Halber, Eric Klann, a professor of neural science at New York University says, “These findings suggest a possible novel therapeutic target for the treatment of Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) — the most common inherited form of autism and intellectual disability.” The promise of all these research studies gives hope to many of us who have family members with autism and Fragile X syndrome that independence and social acceptance are within reach in our lifetime.
Tim Geels – Director of Organizational Instruction and Tyler’s Dad!!