Early identification of autism in fragile X syndrome: a review

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Abstract

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the leading genetic cause of autism, accounting for approximately 5% of autism cases with as many as 50% of individuals with FXS meeting DSM-IV-TR criteria for autistic disorder. Both FXS and idiopathic autism (IA) are attributed to genetic causes; however, FXS is an identified single gene disorder whereas autism is a complex disorder with multiple potential causes, some of which have been identified. Studies in IA have focused on the prospective longitudinal examination of infant siblings of children with autism as a target group due to their high risk of developing the disorder. We propose that this same model be applied to the study of infants with FXS. There is a lack of research focusing on the early development of autism within FXS and debate in the literature regarding how to best conceptualise this co-morbidity or whether it should be considered a co-morbid condition at all. Studying the emergence and stability of autism in infants with FXS has multiple benefits such as clarifying the underlying mechanisms of the development of autism in FXS and solidifying similarities and differences between co-morbid FXS with autism and IA. Infant research in both IA and FXS are discussed as well as conclusions and implications for practice and future research.

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