The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 68 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Yet, despite extensive research, the reason for the disorder’s development remains unclear. But that could soon change, thanks to research conducted by Yiqin Wang grad and Prof. Zhenglong Gu, nutritional sciences. The duo studied the link between certain states of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and ASD. mtDNA, unlike nuclear DNA, is inherited from the mother and while there are over three billion base pairs of nuclear DNA, there are about 16,500 base pairs of mtDNA.
An autistic muppet joined the Sesame Street crew last month. Julia, a red-haired, green-eyed four-year-old muppet appears in an online book, We’re Amazing 1,2,3!, alongside Elmo and Abby Cadabby. Already, viewers have lauded and criticized Julia on multiple fronts: her gender, her mannerisms and the fact that she is not the narrator of her own story. In his latest New York Times column, Arthur C. Brooks writes, “One of the great intellectual and moral epiphanies of our time is the realization that human diversity is a blessing.” Julia’s introduction and resulting conversations reflect another epiphany: that accurate representation of human diversity in (pop) culture is a moral necessity. Furthermore, accuracy is of the utmost importance; media representations can promote stereotypes just as easily as important stories.