The flawed designs of drug trials for autism

Taylor Stevenson’s family never left him out of conversations, but they never expected him to participate, either. His contributions, if he made any, were a few random words—gibberish or a Big Bird quote.

So when Taylor started speaking his mind in his squeaky, sing-songy voice, his mother, Debbie Stevenson, was stunned. “It was such a huge shock,” Stevenson says. She cried tears of joy. This was in late 2012, when Taylor was 16. Over the next year, his once-cursory answers spun into three- to five-word sentences. Phrases such as “I’m okay, thank you” became part of his repertoire.

Taylor has fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes lifelong intellectual disability. One in three people with the syndrome also have autism. Taylor is not one of them, but he does have some autism-like features, such as difficulties with language. At first, Stevenson wasn’t sure what was triggering her son’s changing behavior. Perhaps Taylor’s new high school had sparked the improvement, or perhaps the countless hours of intensive therapy he had endured were finally paying off.

Read Full Item
16th February 2017