Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are using a unique approach for gathering new data about autism. They are not just studying the children. They are looking at 500 grandmothers hoping to get answers about how the disorder may be passed from one generation to the next.
"It was hard, especially for family," Nina Murphy says.
Nina and Bryan Murphy's 31 year old son, Derek, was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with autism.
"I was kind of numb, but then I went into a sort of what I call 'lock and load' type of mentality. That I'm not going to grieve about this. I'm going to do something about this," Nina explains.
Long after, Nina Murphy noticed her son displayed autistic tendencies, such as the hand flapping and the loss of eye contact. She's still on a mission to do something about it. "I have four cousins who have children with autism."
Murphy is participating in a study, answering personal questions about her family's history. "They're asking about my daughter, her tendencies, then how it compares to Derek."
Dr. Natasha Marrus is conducting the research that targets grandmothers. "Grandmothers are actually in a unique position. They have raised the original child with autism. They have raised the siblings, and now they are able to take a look at the grandchildren."
The goal is to find genetic clues in the autism spectrum disorder, believed to impact 1 in 68 children.
For more information on the study, check out the video.
Segment Sponsored by: Mercy Health System