Genetics (continued)  - to repeat: COVID-19 has less than 30,000 bases in about 50 genes. Humans and many other organisms use DNA instead of RNA. Our DNA is double-stranded and we have about 3 billion bases grouped in about 24,000 protein-coding genes on 23 pairs of chromosomes. Plus we have small (but crucial) amounts of mitochondrial DNA. So far, there are almost 1,000 genes involved in the rather wide autism spectrum (on all 23 chromosomes and in mitochondrial DNA as well) with hundreds of thousands of known mutations. There are at least two significant complications:   /1/ chromosomes may not be copied correctly - many cases of Down syndrome are caused by an extra (second) copy of one of the halves of chromosome 21 (so three strands in all) AND portions of a chromosome may be attached to another chromosome - known as translocation /2/ genes may control other genes so that problems in a controller gene's DNA may result in a protein that negatively influences dozens of other genes. Some years ago we had two similar students both of whom had been diagnosed with Helsmoortel-van der Aa syndrome - one of many types of autism. But their Tai Chi Chuan scores were very different despite the students themselves being fairly similar. Mutations in the ADNP gene on chromosome 20 are blamed for Helsmoortel-van der Aa syndrome - it turned out that the two diagnoses were both correct - the students had different mutations of the ADNP gene resulting in very different proteins. 

We strongly urge (but do NOT require) students and sometimes families to get a whole exome DNA analysis.  

Comparing diets, medications, sleep, logistics, behaviors and so on between two (or more) students often has to be done at the mutation level. That also informs our desire to minimize intra-class and inter-class variations. Yes, this amounts to individualized analysis. A key point for parents is that while a gene like INS exerts a powerful daily influence - if the insulin protein is not built correctly blood glucose can be poorly regulated and there will usually be type 1 diabetes - there are other genes that exert influence before birth or at maturity. It is unlikely anyone did anything wrong - the genetic dice just rolled poorly. There might be a one or two refrigerator mothers, as Bruno Bettelheim described them, somewhere on our Planet Earth, but I would expect that ALL cases of autism spectrum (and a great many other conditions) come down to genetics. Given that we currently cannot repair DNA before birth or after, the only question that remains is what to do about the defective proteins. 

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