A 'SPARK' for autism

New nationwide project aims to pinpoint what causes autism genetically

Posted: Mar. 8, 2018 7:52 PM
Updated: Mar. 9, 2018 11:06 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Autism has become more commonplace in today's society, with the likelihood of a person being born with it increasing significantly since the 1980s. Now, a study is looking into why that may be.

A nationwide research project titled 'SPARK' is partnering with the University of Iowa and at least 20 other medical schools, and are asking people to participate in a study that's looking at how autism is caused genetically, which is different compared to existing studies according to researcher Natalie Pottschmidt.

"Other researchers are doing things that are more focused on the behavioral side than our lab does, and we are focused on the genetics and biology," Pottschmidt says.

With the research, Loni Jorgenson, who has a child on the autism spectrum, feels that any kind of research is crucial to find out how it develops.

"It would be helpful for as many families as possible to participate and help get answers," Jorgenson says.

Her daughter was diagnosed between preschool and Kindergarten, and Jorgenson admits that it was a lot to take in.

"After getting the diagnosis, I doved in with research and figuring out what we could do to help her," Jorgenson adds.

With that research, along with some accomodations in school, her daughter is on the right track to becoming a healthy, happy adult, and aims to run her own business.

"She really enjoys pets. So she would like to open some type of clinic to do something with cats," Jorgenson says.

SPARK is being funded by the New York City-based Simons Foundation. If you or someone you know wants to participate, click here.

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