Saturday, November 24, 2012

What Made Janey Autistic #3 in a series

From as early back as I can remember, for some reason, I've been fascinated with genetics.  I've read everything I can find about it.  My sister shares this interest, and we actually used to pretend that our dolls suffered from a rare genetic disease we called Ingalls' Syndrome (I think we were into Laura Ingalls Wilder at the time).  It has symptoms that made dolls, well, doll-like---floppy and not too good at walking on their own.  My sister Carrie came close to going into genetic counselling, and I've kept up my interest through reading over the years.

Genetics, however, when it comes in the form of possibly genetic-linked traits, is not quite as thrilling when it happens to  your family.  But it's certainly a possibility for a cause for Janey's autism.  And a delicate subject.  I'm not going to list family members on both sides with oddities that might be somewhat autism-related, but suffice to say they exist, for sure.  Nobody has full blown autism, but both sides of the family tree are peppered with quirky people.  It's certainly possible that some genes came together that were enough to give Janey autism, or more likely put her in a vulnerable state where getting autism was more likely.

I've always wondered if it's possible Janey has some genetic disease that hasn't been identified, maybe a mild version of one or a mosaic version.  She has a few physical soft markers, little oddities.  One is her toes---the 2nd and 3rd toe overlap, and they are slightly conjoined---not connected, but they seem to share a common root.  She has angel bite type birthmarks when she was a baby that still show up when she cries hard.  A pediatrician at the clinic that diagnosed her said her heart was in an odd position--she even said she thought it might be on the wrong side, but my pediatrician said at most it's more in the middle of the chest than most people's hearts.  She had the late walking, but that's fairly common in autism.  And there was the one MRI way back that showed she had some white matter in her brain where it was supposed to be gray matter, some little dots of it I guess.  But a further MRI didn't show that.  So little things, which of course I've Googled to see if they fit into any pattern, and haven't found one, as of yet.

I do believe that genetics are a huge force in making us what we are, more than most people think or like to think.  I'm fairly sure that genetics have something to do with Janey's autism.  It's another component, along with the first two parts in this series.  When gene analysis gets even better, I might see if a geneticist can have a look at her genes, but at this point, the genetics of autism isn't at an advanced enough point to make that worth it, I don't think.  Until then, I'll call genetics a strong maybe as a cause.

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