Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Is Fragile X the Treatable Type of Autism?

In The Fragile X Factor TIME in partnership with CNN examines Fragile X in the family of Cari and Andrew Wheeler of Madera Ranchos, California including son Max, 7 , who is mildly autistic and mildly retarded. In addition to Max his mother is experiencing premature menopause and his grandfather is suffering from neurological decline. The conditions of all three are impacted by the Fragile X syndrome and the defective X chromosome gene they carry. All three are featured and their common Fragile X syndrome described.

The article also focuses on fenobam, a potential drug treatment for FXS and other types of autism. Pediatrician Randi Hagerman, medical director of the MIND Institute, and a team at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center have begun trials with fenobam. Neuroscientist Mark Bear of MIT is expected to begin trials with two other drugs in 2008. Hagerman is particularly optimistic:

"We're looking at a medication to reverse the retardation and I think we can achieve it."

Hagerman's husband Paul also studies Fragile X and urges parents with an autistic child to consider testing for Fragile X. In his opinion autism caused by Fragile X will be known as the "treatable type".

If the drugs fulfil their potential and are indeed found to be an effective treatment for Fragile X related autism some neurodiversity oriented parents may have to reconsider their "Autism is Beautiful" hostility toward autism cures. It is one thing to oppose a hypothetical treatment or cure. It would be something altogether different for parents to refuse actual proven treatments that could cure their autistic children and give them a chance at a richer life.

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