Good news for families of children with autism. A breakthrough study has just identified two distinct subtypes of autism, at par with the discovery of different cancer types back in the 1960s, reports an Australian periodical.
350 children in between the ages of 2 and 3.5 years were studied by researchers from the University of California Davis’s MIND Institute in Sacramento since 2006. In particular, they observed the brain growth, environmental exposure and genetic make-up of these children, eventually discovering the two distinct strains of autism.
For one group of male children, the researchers noted that they had abnormalities such as enlarged brains and majority of these boys regressed into autism at 1 year and 6 months of age. Another group had malfunctioning immune systems.
Experts hope these findings will help provide a deeper understanding of the causes of autism, as well as to develop a more specified type of treatment for it. It is also hoped that this discovery will help address difficulties autistic individuals experience, such as communication and socialization problems.
The ultimate goal, says psychiatry professor and research leader David Amaral, is for individualized treatments to be developed. "The ultimate goal when a child comes into the clinic, rather than just saying he has autism, is to be able to say you have autism type A, or type B, or type C," Amaral said.
Amaral also added that such a development would allow them to give proper recommendations to families on what treatments their autistic children should undergo.