A whole-genome sequencing study of families with multiple children with autism spectrum disorder has found that siblings often don't share ASD-related mutations, the researchers say in Nature Genetics.
Based on this, Stephen Scherer, director of the Hospital for Sick Children's Centre for Applied Genomics and the University of Toronto's McLaughlin Centre, argues that each child with autism is unique and that, rather than looking for ASD-susceptibility genes in each child, their entire genome should be assessed, according to GenomeWeb.
Scherer and his team analyzed the genomes of 85 quartets — parents and two affected children — to find that nearly 70 percent of affected siblings had different ASD-related mutations.
This, the New York Times says, may help some parents understand why their children have such different manifestations of the disorder. For instances, it notes that the Souths have two sons with autism, but Thomas will interact with strangers while Cameron will not and Thomas is always moving while Cameron likes to stay in one spot.
"The findings suggest that there is significant genetic diversity among people with autism," Judith Brown from the National Autistic Society tells the Guardian. "This reaffirms the importance of viewing each person with autism as an individual and identifying support appropriate to their needs, rather than approaching all people in the same way."