April 18, 2011
In the first of six reports in his Autism Now series, former NewsHour anchor Robert MacNeil takes viewers on a visit with his 6-year-old grandson, Nick, to see how autism affects the whole family. Nick experiences autism not just as a brain-development disorder, but also as physical ailments affecting his whole body.
ROBERT MACNEIL: In recent years, the diagnosis of autism has shown startling growth, now affecting one in 110 American children. For over two decades, parents desperate for answers and feeling slighted by the medical community have helped force to create services for their children, raise money for research and campaign for wider awareness of autism and for support from the government.
Today the picture is changing. Researchers now believe there is no simple genetic cause, that autism may involve multiple genetic pathways, and toxic materials in the environment may trigger the symptoms of autism. Autism once was considered only a brain disorder. Now, more doctors say it often involves serious physical illness.
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