When it comes to autism, it is hard to identify the specific cause since no one has an answer yet as to what actually causes it. “Spectrum” disorder is what autism is often described as, since there is not one single condition, but many varieties. Some autistic people, such as those with Asperger’s Syndrome, are able to function in society, while at the other end of the spectrum, people with severe types of autism often must be institutionalized, as they are unable to take care of even their most basic needs. The average scientist believes that many different factors are involved in autism not just one single cause. It is widely believed that genetics play a large role. The following are a few theories on the possible causes of autism.
Many researchers seem to believe that autism may have an associated genetic link. The number of autistic children born into families with an existing link to an autistic family member is noticeably higher than those without. Even though it’s likely that genetics do play their part, experts concede that a range of other factors need to be considered. A child is more likely to develop autism if it runs in the family, but it also depends on the environment he or she is raised in. Scientists are still researching this particular link and as more is learned it should become clearer which genes play a part in autism.
Parents who are older than the average parent and have children has been shown to be a possible cause for autism. It appears that the older a mother is, the more likely it is that her child will be autistic. To a lesser degree the father’s age can also play a factor. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of autism cases and this can be explained by the fact that more parents seem to be waiting longer to have children. Particularly in countries that are wealthier nations or more developed. Since many autistic children are born to young parents, and older parents have children who are not autistic, this is simply a possible cause. In many studies it has been shown that the risk for having a child with autism is greater the older the parents are.
A common misconception is that bad parenting is a major cause of autism. The theory was that parents who did not bond emotionally with their children caused them to become aloof, and in extreme cases, autistic. Autism experts today however, believe that genetics are the biggest cause for autism. It is widely believe though, that the environment of the family can influence the severity of autism and how the child copes. Autism however, is no longer considered to be caused by the family environment. There are many possible causes of autism, and it will probably be some time before there is any general agreement about what brings about this condition. The causes of autism discussed above cannot, therefore, be considered the final word on the subject, but they are all worthy of further study.
My friend Don, whose son has autism.