Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed by experienced professionals who look at a child’s behaviour and development. What causes ASD is complex, but there is increasing evidence that genes play an important role. To investigate the genetic contribution to a child’s ASD diagnosis, clinicians can order genetic tests marketed for ASD. These tests look for genetic differences in a list of genes that are thought to be associated with ASD.
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism spectrum disorder develop connections between areas in their brain differently. Changes to brain connections show similarities across these neurodevelopmental disorders and are linked to children’s independent living skills.
The TAOK2 gene is involved the development of the brain and its cells. Specifically, changes to this gene affect how brain cells communicate with each other. This study reveals that TAOK2 is a risk gene for neurodevelopmental disorders.
The two most common variants of the oxytocin receptor were associated with greater severity of social skills deficits in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, while the same variants were associated with reduced levels of social skills deficits in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Researchers found DIXDC1, a gene that affects the way brain cells can communicate with each other, is “turned off” in some people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, affecting memory and social communication.
Children and youth with neurodevelopmental disorders showed problems recognizing the emotional and mental states in others, but to varying degrees. These difficulties seemed to be related to the severity of their social communication deficits.
Studies involving POND researchers
Using epigenetics to Differentiate Between Two Similar Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Identify Shared Biology
Studies involving other Canadian researchers
Other research summaries