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Autism Gene [continued from page 3 ]

    Spence’s group screened genetic material from the child, who previously had been diagnosed with autism.  By screening one patient at a time, the researchers could focus their laboratory resources on a careful analysis of the structures of all 46 of the patient’s chromosomes in a region called  15q22 – q23.
     “Heredity has long been suspected of playing a major role in autism, but identifying specific genes that makes people more vulnerable to autism has been difficult,” Spence said.  “It is most likely brought about by the interaction of multiple genes, each contributing a small part in causing the disease.  We are grateful to this patient’s family and to other participants for allowing us to continue the research that we hope will put this complex genetic puzzle together and give us insight on the causes and treatment for autism.”

     The research group is studying other patients who have been diagnosed with autism and also is using brain-scanning technology to look for developmental and physiological changes in the brain that may occur in autism.  Previously, the researchers led a national group of physicians and scientists that established new diagnostic and early intervention procedures for children with autism, which were adopted by the American Academy of Neurology.
     The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Alliance for Autism Research.  Spence and Smith’s colleagues in the study included: Dr. Pauline Filipek, Charles Wu, Maureen Bocian, Simin Hakim and Charlotte Modahl, all of UCI.

 

Missing Nixon  -  A commentary by Jerry Newport

Reprinted with permission:  Jerry Newport is an adult with Asperger Syndrome who has featured on 60 Minutes 4 years ago.  It’s always a treat to listen to him speak, and ASPEN is very fortunate to have Jerry as a scheduled speaker for their upcoming April 29, 2001 conference.  Below is his commentary on the current election situation.
ASPEN®, Asperger Syndrome Education Network, Inc.  http://www.aspennj.org/

        It’s gotten that bad.  I actually miss Richard Nixon.  I never voted for him and have spent most of my adult life as an Democrat.  But I miss Tricky Dick.  I miss his five O’clock shadow and the geeky way he insinuated his face into the upper right-hand corner of my TV set on the day of the first moon landing, to make some silly Presidential announcement, as if he could upstage Neil Armstrong.
       I miss his Checker’s speech and the Moscow kitchen debate.  I miss the feeling that like me, Richard Nixon seemed to wonder if anyone really liked him or just tolerated him because he was so productive.  I miss the Nixon because for all of his Kennedy-phobia, he knew, unlike some people today, that winning isn’t everything.  Twice, Richard Nixon put our country above his own needs.  He died a true American patriot.

        I hope we don’t have four years of gridlock, but I can tell you one thing.  If the autistic population had run this electoral show, the problems would never have happened.  If we ran the elections, there would be uniform procedures, unambiguous ballots and no forecasts anywhere of any state’s winner until the entire nation had finished voting.

        That is the bottom line.  The integrity of the process is more important than Bush, Gore or whether the Secretary of State of Florida can trade in her frequent flyer miles for votes.  In times like this when neurotypicals getlost in their ambitions, the autistic talent for ruthless objectivity with no regard for social or political context should be allowed to come to our nation’s rescue.

        We may have here, a full-employment program for people with autism; in the office of every Registrar of Voters in America.  After all, many of us like to do the kind of work that most people find boring and we do it right.  We  need to show that the most frustrating traits of autistic people can be advantages.  I hope we do a better job of this in the future.  Meanwhile, time is the greatest judge.  For all his mistakes, Richard Nixon will be remembered as a brilliant international statesman.  And I hope that all of our idiosyncrasies, my peers will someday be more known for the contributions we make to an orderly, just society where every vote really counts.

 

 

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