According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 166 children is diagnosed as being autistic. That is a surprisingly high rate for most of us who haven’t been exposed to the statistics or someone affected by the condition. Autism research is in trouble because of this.
The lack of public information means that research funds are diverted to other more prominent causes such as heart disease and cancer. Although these are important as well, there are so many affected by Autism that it is also a worthwhile cause.
Many parents of autistic children complain that there isn’t enough Autism research being done at this point in time, despite the high numbers of children affected by the condition.
Mr. Wright of Autism Speaks says that just 2/3 of 1% of the National Health Budget is being put toward Autism research. That tiny percentage is coming out of a $30 million budget. And it just isn’t enough, according to those affected by Autism.
The Autism Speaks foundation is attempting to raise funds for research that many individuals hope will provide an eventual cure for the disease. Autism research may eventually be able to provide a cure that could not only release their children from their trapped worlds, but change entire families.
Trying to determine the cause of the disease is one of the most important factors that is being handled in the area of Autism research at this time. Once they have a cause, a cure is close behind.
Some studies have suggested that there is a connection between mercury exposure and Autism, although not all researchers believe this is the case. Autism research is focusing in part on environmental factors, but without adequate funding, they are a long ways from finding out exactly what is the actual cause.
Studying high-functioning toddlers with Autism is one area that some Autism research projects have been focusing on. These children are given non-verbal tests (since they are too young to speak well) involving computers. These tests are given to very small children, 18 months to 2 years to gauge their ability to assimilate information and to study exactly how children with Autism develop in their formative years.
They are also testing children who have autistic siblings. This gives researchers a control group, children raised in the same home with the same stimulus and environmental exposure as their autistic sibling. And, since children with autistic siblings have a higher probability of developing the condition themselves, researchers can watch them develop right from birth, adding a huge amount of information useful to Autism research.
While many years of concentrated focus have given us tools to help these children, we are still a long way from a cure. Only more Autism research and better funding for that research can get us closer to that ultimate goal.
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