The same genetic factors may underlie both autism and autistic people’s tendency to have sleep problems, such as insomnia.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Biological factors that reflect autism’s roots may differ from those that influence how severe the condition is. Failure to make a distinction has stymied the search for biomarkers.
Children with autism traits tend to show agitation, excitability, decreased sleep and other mild signs of mania in adolescence; the association is higher in identical twins than fraternal twins, suggesting that genetics plays a role.
Genes influence how autistic people react to sights, sounds and other sensory cues, whereas environmental factors shape their tendency to notice and seek out such stimuli, a new study in twins suggests.
Environmental factors influence brain structure in autistic children more than in non-autistic children, according to an analysis of imaging data from twins.
Some social behaviors associated with autism are heritable, but the extent to which genes and the environment influence these behaviors changes as a child grows.
The relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors to autism have held steady over multiple decades, according to a large twin study.
People with autism have more brain-related health problems, such as headaches and epilepsy, than typical people do.
A child’s environment exerts a strong influence on the severity of her autism, a study of identical twins suggests.