Welcome to Newsletter No. 2 from Positive About Autism. Each month, we can bring you bite size pieces of learning, news, and resources. Sign up for free here.
Genetics raises questions Should medical science offer the opportunity to eliminate a child who may turn out to be, not only a valuable member of society, but an important contributor to its future?
January 8th saw the birth of the first British baby genetically screened before conception to be free of a breast cancer gene. Staff at University College London hospital have said that mum and baby are both doing well. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, has already been used in the UK to rule out inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease. It’s possible that when more is known about the genetics of autism that the same technique could be used to prevent children with autism being born. But is that what we want? More
Understanding the brain A shared research initiative offers a better understanding of brain functions in autism. The Universities of Oxford and Derby and the Open University are using a new scanner in a specially commissioned unit (at Oxford). One area of investigation centres on how we learn to recognize faces. More
Funding for UK research Levels of funding for autism research compare very badly with other childhood conditions. That’s the view of Autism Speaks (a USA and UK based charity that wants more autism research especially in relation to the biology of autism). Autism Speaks reports that in England and Wales spending on autism research is much smaller than research funding for conditions like leukemia in children, or cystic fibrosis - both of which have a much a smaller incidence than autism. More
Podcast Listen to Dr Greg Pasco (Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge) on autism and research More
NB You will need Quick Time installed on your computer - get it)
On the increase Autism seems to be growing wherever you are in the world. The growth in autism numbers (the condition is now thought to affect around 1 % of the UK population) is often attributed to better detection and diagnosis. However researchers behind a study in California claim that the increase is not due to better identification, they suggest the seven- to eight-fold increase in the number of children born in California with autism since 1990 has more to do with the environment. More
Extradition The CEO of the National Autistic Society called for urgent action to stop the extradition of Gary McKinnon, 42 and allow him to stand trial in the UK. McKinnon A British computer expert with Asperger syndrome allegedly hacked into US military networks. He faces up to 70 years in prison if he is found guilty of gaining access to and damaging 97 American Navy, Army, Nasa and Pentagon computers. Gary McKinnon has won permission from the High Court to apply for a judicial review against his extradition to the United States. More
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