How can I find out if my/my child's case is genetic? Can we tell which side of the family the autism came from?

Experts maintain that the cause of autism is largely genetic; they attribute about 80% of the risk to inherited genes, leaving only 20% to environmental factors. This is a monumental finding for the causation and treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but much is left to be discovered.

Because no single gene causes autism (more than 100 genes have clear ties to the disorder), there are no genetic tests available to diagnose autism. Many different changes and mutations in a person’s genes can lead to them developing autism. However, a genetic test can explain why your child developed ASD, as well as other information that could benefit your family.

If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, our therapists and behavior specialists at Therapeutic Pathways will help them develop and strengthen their social, emotional, and intellectual skills to improve their quality of life.

We are involved in the scientific community and follow the latest research involving genetics and the role they play in autism. Our approach at Therapeutic Pathways is to use evidence-based, science-backed treatment that will help your child live a satisfying and well-rounded life. 

Please call (209) 422-3280 or contact us for more information.

What Genetic Testing May Tell You

Genetic testing cannot tell you anything definitive about autism at this point; it may be able to tell you about some other genetic conditions, should you be concerned. One of these tests may inform you of:

  • The chances that your future children may develop autism.
  • What kinds of services and treatment may best benefit your child.
  • Other health issues or concerns related to the genetic mutation that caused your child’s autism. Some genetic disorders have been associated with autism. These include tuberous sclerosis, benign tumors that grow on the brain and other organs, and Fragile X syndrome, a condition that causes intellectual disabilities.

If my older child is diagnosed with ASD what are the chances any other children would have autism?

Parents may take genetic tests to determine if their defective gene was passed on and led to their child developing autism. Research conducted at Duke University Medical Center found that this happens through a process called “genetic imprinting.”

Genetic imprinting goes against the typical laws of Mendelian genetics where genes are either recessive or dominant. In genetic imprinting, genes become “turned off” shortly after fertilization, or during the development of egg or sperm cells. 

Imprinting affects a gene’s development, and through testing, genetic specialists can trace the pattern of inheritance of a disorder between parent and child.

Is genetic testing for autism reliable?

The short version is not always. Genetic testing cannot diagnose or detect autism as over 100 genes can be linked to autism, but no single instance is repeatable among those who have it. What it can do is help identify markers or concerns, and it can help autism research. These markers, when identified between siblings or parent and child, can help future researchers know what to look for and can help concerned caregivers have an explanation of the condition, but not a direct cause. 

Genetic testing is evolving and changing rapidly, and in the future we may discover a solid connection between genetics and DNA. For now, we only know they are connected somehow. 

Treatment for Your Child With Autism

At Therapeutic Pathways, our therapists and behavior technicians follow the most up-to-date practices extensively researched and backed by leaders in the scientific community. After your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, come to Therapeutic Pathways for individualized treatment. We provide family training and support as well as comprehensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment for children, adolescents, and adults. 

For more information, call (209) 422-3280.