Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Screening along the spectrum: The search for a genetic test for autism

By Shane Huntington

Neuropsychiatrist Prof Chris Pantelis and neural engineering researcher Prof Stan Skafidas discuss the potential for the use of genetics to improve the diagnosis of autism.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
I'm Dr Shane Huntington. Thanks for joining us. Human beings are social animals. We rely on language and the subtle social cues that accompany our words to communicate with each other. But for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD for short, the simple acts of communicating and interacting with others in a social setting can be baffling or even terrifying. Currently ASD diagnosis is complex. Psychological assessments and interviews are combined with behavioural observations by parents and teachers and a multitude of other mental disorders need to be carefully ruled out. But we know from twin studies that there's a genetic component to ASD, so why don't we have a genetic test for this condition? Are behavioural observations really the best we can do for desperate parents seeking answers for the challenging behaviour in their children? Surely our extraordinary advances in genetics hint at effective DNA based tests.
Today on Up Close we speak to a neuropsychiatrist and an electrical engineer about how we might one day test for ASD based on our genetics. Chris Pantelis is Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Scientific Director of the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre at the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.