CATEGORIES: Special Needs Law, Elder Law, Guardianship, Winston Salem, North Carolina, NC.
Researchers have found a surprising connection between intelligence and autism. On May 23, scientists announced the discovery of 40 new genes linked to human intelligence, and found that many people with the genes were also on the autism spectrum. The findings could one day help shed light on the condition’s origins.
Autism, more properly known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) – includes Asperger’s syndrome. It has long been known that some sufferers have superior abilities in areas such as mathematics and science. The neurological condition affects four to five times as many males as females, believed to be around 1.5 percent of all children. Its exact cause remains unknown, and diagnosis requires many doctors specializing in a number of different disciplines.
The 40 new genes were discovered by researchers from the Centre for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam, based on a study of 78,000 people of European descent. Most of the newly discovered gene variants linked to elevated IQ play a role in regulating cell development in the brain. Computers have made it possible to scan and compare hundreds of thousands of genomes, matching tiny variations in DNA with diseases, body types, or in this case, native smarts.
Many of the genetic variations linked with high IQ also correlated with other attributes: more years spent in school, bigger head size in infancy, tallness, and even success in kicking the tobacco habit.
People with autism may require special care, and may need some type of government assistance during their lives, including Medicaid assistance. Medicaid and similar government programs may have strict asset or income limits. Thus any will or trust bequest left to an autistic person should be directed to a special needs trust (SNT), which will leave such needed government benefits intact.
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, (May 24, 2017).
Shiviali Best, Autism is Linked to Intelligence: People With “Smart Genes” are More Likely to Have the Disorder, London Daily Mail (May 23, 2017),