Newswise — Chicagoland families affected by autism can participate in the nation’s largest study to uncover genetic links to the condition by attending an on-site registration and data collection event in the western suburbs, Saturday, January 14. Families with a loved one on the autism spectrum are asked to share demographic, medical and behavioral information at: Right Fit Sports-Fitness-Wellness, 7101 S Adams, Willowbrook, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; or Turning Pointe, 1500 West Ogden Avenue, Naperville, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Participants with autism will receive a $50 gift card in the mail upon completion of their study.

The research project, called SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge), is hoping to collect family information and DNA samples from 50,000 people with autism and their family members. In Chicago, SPARK has partnered exclusively with Rush University Medical Center (RUMC). Families will be asked to fill out a short on-line family history form and complete a DNA test consisting of a simple spit sample or cheek swab. Participants are encouraged to register for the event in advance, however walk-ins are welcome. Those who register in advance will receive one free personal fitness session from Right Fit Sports Fitness Wellness. Right Fit specializes in movement and fitness programs for youth and adults on the autism spectrum.

To register or for more information, contact the Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment and Services Center (AARTS) at Rush, (312) 563-2765, or email: [email protected].

Autism is known to have a strong genetic component. To date, approximately 50 genes have been identified that almost certainly play a role in autism, and scientists estimate that an additional 300 or more are involved.

For those who want to participate, but can’t attend the on-site testingor for more information, visit: The AARTS Center provides unparalleled expertise in diagnosis, treatment and research for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

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