Autism is a range of neuro-developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Researchers have found the first evidence of a genetic link between autism and prodigy. For the study, the researchers defined prodigy as a child who achieved national or international recognition for a specific skill by adolescence. This finding may help explain why the two groups share certain characteristics, such as exceptionally good memories.
Researchers studied the DNA from 12 children with extraordinary abilities in music, mathematics or other fields. They also studied 39 other people who were all members of the children's families, including 10 family members who had autism, and four prodigies who also had autism. They found genetic markers on chromosome 1 that were shared between the prodigies and their relatives with autism, but the specific mutations involved could not be found.
Study co-author Joanne Ruthsatz, an assistant professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, said, "Prodigies clearly share traits with children who have autism, such as exceptional memories and attention to detail. However, one weak point in the study is that it is very small and statistically not convincing. We are now looking for the moderator that's shutting down the genes responsible for dysfunction in autism. Finding such a gene could lead to new autism treatments."
The study appeared in Human Heredity