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Siblings with Autism: Cracking the Genetic Code

In looking at the genetics of autism, a recent study has gone a great way in throwing into question a long-held belief regarding siblings with autism and the genes they share. Progress in the methodology of genetic research as it relates to autism has continued to open new horizons for better identifying both the particular genes related to autism and helping researchers better diagnose individuals on the autism spectrum.  However, this new study has thrown a considerable wrench into just how dependable genetic mapping is.


Scientists have long held that siblings that inherit autism possess the exact same or similar risk genes for the disorder as their parents and one another. But according to a study co-authored by University of Toronto geneticist Stephen Scherer, this might in fact be far from the case. While Scherer and his colleagues anticipated that more often than not, there would be shared inheritance in siblings, their research found that this was far from the case.


Moreso, the researchers found that in cases where siblings did not share genetic similarities, they also had significantly different behavioral patterns and are as distinct as any neurotypical pair of siblings.