A gene has been identified which affects the severity of social interaction dysfunction in people with autism, which could potentially affect whether they require respite care.
The findings by scientists from Johns Hopkins support previous evidence that autism spectrum disorders are connected with an imbalance of inhibitory and excitatory signalling at synapses.
Glutamate receptor interacting protein 1 (GRIP1), regulates the speed at which receptors travel to a cell's surface, where they are activated and communicate with one another.
Researcher Richard L Huganir said: "The GRIP1 variants we studied are not sufficient to cause autism by themselves, but appear to be contributing factors that can modify the severity of the disease.
"GRIP1 mutations seem to contribute to social interaction deficits in the patients we studied."
Meanwhile, a study conducted at the University of Washington Autism Centre revealed that young children with the condition who are comparatively uninterested in playing with toys could benefit more from certain types of treatment.