Autism: The Point of View from Fragile X Studies

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Abstract

The relationship between the fragile X syndrome (FXS) and autism is reviewed. Shortly after the FXS was first described, it was noted that certain behaviors commonly found in afflicted individuals resemble certain features of autism. Research concerning a possible relationship between these conditions is summarized. The outcome of this research indicates that FXS is not a common cause of autism, although the number of individuals with FXS who meet diagnostic criteria for autism is higher than can be accounted for by chance. The major focus of this paper highlights that FXS is a well-defined neurogenetic disease that includes a cognitive behavioral phenotype, and has both a known biological cause and an increasing well-delineated pathogenesis. Autism is a behaviorally defined syndrome whose syndromic boundaries and biological causes are not known. These profound differences complicate comparisons and causal discussions. However, the behavioral neurogenetic information available about FXS suggests certain pathways for future research directed at elucidating the syndrome of autism.

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