Typical characteristics of AS are not usually evident at birth. Individuals with this disorder may have feeding difficulties as infants and noticeable delayed development around 6-12 months of age. They need intensive therapies to help develop functional skills. AS affects every race and both genders. It is often misdiagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy.
People with Angelman syndrome often have unique behavioral characteristics, including a happy demeanor, characterized by frequent laughing, smiling and excitability. Many individuals with AS have an affinity for water and take great pleasure in water-based activities like swimming and bathing. It is important to note that Angelman syndrome is a spectrum disorder and as such, not all individuals exhibit the same behavioral characteristics or preferences.
There are different types of testing to determine if your child has Angelman syndrome. We provide information for parents and individuals that do not have a working knowledge of genetics but would like to understand what tests are available and what they mean.
The journey to Angelman syndrome diagnosis is not always easy. There is not a definitive age when diagnosis is made, but thanks to scientific advancements and diligent infant screenings, diagnosis is occurring earlier and sooner. The presentation of Angelman syndrome varies by individual and genotype.
mRNA is the FedEx of the body. Our DNA uses mRNA as a delivery service to send blueprints to the protein-assembly factories of our cells. People with AS have a mutation, deletion or other defect in their UBE3A gene that interrupts this delivery service. As a result, their neurons do not make any functional UBE3A protein, and that’s what triggers the symptoms of AS. This protein is what helps us walk, talk and perform other everyday tasks.
In most cases, Angelman syndrome isn’t inherited – particularly those caused by a deletion or UPD. Instead, these genetic changes occur as random events during the formation of reproductive cells or in early embryonic development.
An individual with UPD has two copies of chromosome 15 from their father, instead of one each from the father and mother.
The feeling of isolation at the time of diagnosis is almost universal among parents. Sometimes, the best way to overcome this feeling and gain understanding is to hear from those who’ve been there before. Connecting with others who share the same rare experience with Angelman syndrome can be helpful when you’re ready.
Paula M. Evans founded FAST in 2008 after doctors told her there was no hope for her daughter who has AS.
Whether you are newly diagnosed, or have been on this journey for years, being able to recognize a seizure, properly communicate symptoms to your child’s medical provider, and knowing best practices for treating seizures in AS will be your best defense in ensuring the safety and health of your child.