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Fri Nov 9, 2012, 10:02 AM

Are Geeky Couples More Likely to Have Kids with Autism?


possible explanation involves a phenomenon known as assortative mating, which usually means “like pairs with like.” I first encountered the concept in an undergraduate statistics tutorial at the University of Oxford in 1978, when my tutor told me (perhaps to make statistics a little more lively) that whom you have sex with is not random. When I asked her to elaborate, she gave me the example of height: tall people tend to mate with tall people, and short people tend to mate with short people. Height is not the only characteristic that consciously and subconsciously influences partner selection—age is another example, as are personality types. Now, more than 30 years later, my colleagues and I are testing whether assortative mating explains why autism persists in the general population. When people with technical minds—such as engineers, scientists, computer programmers and mathematicians—marry other technical-minded individuals, or their sons and daughters do, do they pass down linked groups of genes that not only endow their progeny with useful cognitive talents but also increase their children's chances of developing autism?


Today researchers know that an identical twin of someone with autism is around 70 times more likely to develop autism, too, compared with an unrelated individual. Although researchers have uncovered associations between specific genes and autism, no one has identified a group of genes that reliably predicts who will develop the condition. The genetics of autism are far more complex than that. What I have been interested in understanding, however, is how genes for autism survive in the first place. After all, autism limits one's abilities to read others' emotions and to form relationships, which in turn may reduce one's chances of having children and passing on one's genes.

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Reply Are Geeky Couples More Likely to Have Kids with Autism? (Original post)
eridani Nov 2012 OP
Odin2005 Nov 2012 #1
Marrah_G Nov 2012 #2
Warpy Nov 2012 #3

Response to eridani (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 10:31 AM

1. Autism spectrum disorders run in my mom's side.

It's definitely genetic.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 11:22 AM

2. I know exactly two families with Autistic children

Classic Autism, not other parts of the autistic spectrum.

Family one (lawyers): My cousin and his wife had quadruplets, fraternal twin girls, identical twin boys. The Identical boys are Autistic, one severely ( the savant, non communicative sort) and one with a more moderate version.

Family Two (working class): My best friend has Identical twin girls. Both Autistic, one moderate, one milder.

It just feels like there has to be some connection.

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Response to Marrah_G (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 04:30 PM

3. There is definitely a strong genetic component

but I haven't seen any correlation between geekiness and the birth of autistic children to the family.

They've found a correlation with paternal age, but it doesn't look like there are any behavioral links.

At least they've stopped blaming mothers for it.

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