There is still much to learn about the autism spectrum: what causes it, how broad the spectrum is and the best ways to treat it are still being researched. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, children who suffer from a genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, or 22q, may be at risk of being misdiagnosed with autism. This new discovery goes to show the best way to ensure a proper diagnosis is to take the child to an autism specialist.
The 22q deletion disorder is caused by a missing section of chromosome 22 and statistically is about as common as Down syndrome. Key elements of the disorder are heart defects, palate differences, kidney problems and immune system issues. Other symptoms include cognitive, developmental and speech delays and behavioral and emotional problems—which are identical to symptoms of autism.
The research showed that many children with 22q deletion syndrome did not have autism. Children who have 22q often have high levels of social motivation and get pleasure from social interaction. The two disorders should definitely be treated differently. Researchers concluded that further studies are needed to assess appropriate treatments for children with 22q.