Each child with autism is like a snowflake- unique from the other, says study

A recent research reveals that most siblings who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) carry different genes that are linked to the disorder. This work is being considered as the largest study of autism genome, led by Stephen Scherer, the director of Autism Speaks MSSNG project.

Interestingly, around 1,000 autism genomes have been uploaded by the team in the Google Cloud Platform so that global research on autism can take few steps further with the help of these open access materials. Dr. Scherer, an integral part of the Hospital for Sick Children, Ontario, Canada marked it as a historic event in the field of autism research.


In this work, the team chose 85 families; all of them had two autistic children. 340 whole genomes from these families were sequenced. The findings suggested that a whopping 69 percent of the siblings showed extremely little to no overlap in the autism linked gene variation. Only 31 percent of autistic siblings had same changes in the genes related to autism.

This observation threw open challenges to the long-standing assumptions that being an inherited disorder, siblings in the same family share a fair amount of autism linked genes.

The specific reasons for autism are still not fully known, but there remain many genetic and environmental factors that contribute together in the development of this disorder. It is known that a child with an elder autistic sibling has 7 times higher risk of suffering from autism.


Dr. Scherer explained that every autistic child is just not special; they are unique and distinct from each other. He also said, because of this finding, in order to combat autism, screening of individual genome needs to be done to design the best affordable personalized treatment for every autistic patient.

42 percent of the participating families showed existence of the autism-risk genes, an observation that may explain the possible reasons of their children getting affected by the disorder.