What is Fragile X Syndrome?
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is a genetically inherited condition that results in intellectual disability, which can range on a spectrum from mild to severe, as well as behavioral issues, cognitive delays and learning deficits. It is a rare syndrome caused by mutations in the FMR1 gene, and it affects approximately 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 8,000 females. Common physical characteristics and behaviors are an elongated face or protruding ears and hand flapping and social anxiety. Other behaviors may include poor eye-contact or hand biting as well as aggressive behavior and autism like symptoms. A dual diagnosis of FXS and ADD, ADHD, autism or sensory disorders can occur.
Autism and Fragile X
The most common known genetic cause of autism is fragile X. Studies conducted over the past 10 years have shown that the cases of children who have FXS and autism is 15-33%. Similarities between the two are difficulty with social engagement, poor eye contact, repetitive behaviors and language delays. The primary differences are that Fragile X is a more specific diagnosis than autism and it has a specific cause. The autism spectrum consists of a wide range of functioning levels, social deficits and behavioral issues. There are multiple causes and factors that contribute to autism.
Early intervention in the form of behavior therapy can greatly benefit children with FXS. Valuable self-help skills and academic skills can be taught at any age, but early intervention is strongly encouraged. ABA therapy specifically can help reduce or eliminate problem behaviors and aid in learning communication skills.