A groundbreaking new study links GABA neurotransmitters to autism — a finding that could lead to new treatments and better diagnosis.
As we reported recently, scientists have made a huge breakthrough on autism that could lead to improved treatments and a better way to diagnose the illness early. However, even treatment of the supposed disorder is a controversial issue in autism circles.
The findings by researchers at Harvard and MIT will be important for future studies of autism, as it leaks the neurotransmitter GABA to autism symptoms, which is found in 21.7 million people across the world. And it’s not an easy disorder to diagnose, as symptoms show up gradually in newborns and don’t fully manifest until after the child reaches about 2 years old. Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder the results in difficulties with social interaction and communication. This new study could help parents and doctors spot the disorder earlier.
But autism is a touchy subject, and even describing it as a disability can result in a fair share of controversy. At issue is whether children — or adults for that matter — who have autism should be portrayed as having problems, and therefore being a burden on their families.
For example, a well-known autism organism caused Autism Speaks doesn’t exactly have full backing from the autism community. The organization, which was founded in 2005, has earned criticism for a number of incidents, such as a 2009 video that portrayed autism as something that negatively affects people’s lives, according to a Forbes column.
Although those who are autistic do struggle with social skills, many argue that portraying autism in such negative terms is demeaning to those who have autism. While Autism Speaks would point to difficulties parents have with a teenage child like dealing with bed wetting or the child having a seizure, others would say this is simply parenting, which is a challenge no matter what their child is going through.