asbergerAsperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is part of a distinct group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by communication difficulties, social impairment, restrictive, sterotypical and repetitive patterns of behavior. Abnormalities in social interaction may include isolation, and a lack of ability to pick up on non-verbal forms of communication. It’s also characterized by clumsiness and poor communication skills.

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It is labelled as a disorder simply because there are observable differences with social interaction and behavior in social settings. Does that not seem highly questionable to you? So what if there are observable differences in behavior? Differences does not equal disorder, they are simply differences that are unique to the individual and require no cure.  When it comes to differences in brain functioning, the American Medical Association has a tendency to label them as disorders without sufficient evidence. When one reads a description of the ‘disorder’ the readers usually believe it without asking critical questions and making critical connections. If we are going to label something as a disorder without evidence, it is equally plausible to label them as an advantage. Truth is, we are made up of the same thing, we all bring our unique individuality to the whole.

Scientists have long suspected that there are genetic components to Asperger’s syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Disorders, but no specific gene has ever been identified. Instead, the most recent evidence indicates  a common group of genes whose variations make an individual more vulnerable to developing ASD. Scientists from the University of Cambridge have identified 27 genes that are associated with autistic traits and/or Asperger Syndrome. They looked at genes that are linked to the observable characteristics and qualities within a human being that are different than the “norm.” Genes identified were associated with empathy, judgement, decision making, social/emotional sensitivity and more. They chose these genes because these children show observable differences from the norm in these areas. For example, a child diagnosed with ASD or Asperger syndrome might look like they lack empathy or social and emotional sensitivity. I do not think we should judge a book by it’s cover, and I do not think differences in the genetic makeup responsible for empathy and emotional sensitivity should be labelled as a disorder. The research is published in the journal ‘Autism Research’ and this is the first candidate gene study of its kind.

The research found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 27 out of the 68 genes studied were nominally associated with either AS and/or with autistic traits/empathy. A single nucleotide polymorphism is a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide in the genome differs between members of a biological species or paired chromosomes in a human. Nucleotides are molecules that form the building blocks of DNA. Therefore, the genetic structure of a child or adult with Asperger’s syndrome differs from the genetic structure of the mass population, different DNA. The cause of this is still unknown.

Observable differences here do not suggest a disorder, they simply mean exactly what the study finds, differences in DNA sequencing, that’s all. How do we know that evolution isn’t taking place? After all, single nucleotide polymorphisms are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Just because there are observable social and behavioral differences, coupled with observable differences in DNA/genetics does not give us the right to label, define and categorize children into a category of disorder. This can prevent them from achieving their full potential. Children often diagnosed with these labels usually show a number of remarkable qualities and characteristics. Medical associations and big pharmaceutical companies like to persuade professional opinion through academic literature, and they do it in a very clever way.

Sources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089662730000115X

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/157802.php

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/genomicresearch/snp


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