What Causes Autism?
What causes autism? The answer to that question remains a mystery. This is true, despite the growing trends of individuals being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
As of 2018, 1 in 59 children will be diagnosed as autistic. Autism rates are currently predicted to continue increasing over time, with no cap in sight.
Additionally, the medical community isn’t able to provide any individual cause for autism at this time. Instead, there are a series of genetic and environmental links that seem to be forming a pattern.
The hope, is that collecting data more intensely will reduce our ignorance about what causes of ASD. Time will only tell how long this journey will take.
There are a plethora of incomplete studies, far-fetched theories, and all around confusion presented on the topic of autism. All of which can become deafening to those living with autism. However, there appears to be a light growing at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Autism Causes And Theories
Research today is gaining ground, and thanks to groups like Spark, Autism Speaks, and chat rooms on the internet, autism research is growing more each day.
The concern for many is about the hopelessness that comes with an autism diagnoses. After all, if it’s taking this long to learn about what’s causing autism, what hope does that leave for a future prevention?
(More on Spark below.)
The suspected causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) lack predictability at this point in time. However, we are starting to know a little bit, about a lot of the factors involved.
Current Links To Autism
- ASD has been linked to over one hundred genes from a variety of chromosomes. Each to a varying degree of effect.
- A large portion of the people with autism have slight mutations in their genes linked to ASD.
- Irregular brain connections, and brain growth.
- The majority of those diagnosed with ASD have defective methylation or transulfuration pathways.
- Families with a history of similar disabilities and/or disorders.
- Bacterial and/or viral infections in the mother, during pregnancy.
- Congenital rubella is highly supported as an environmental cause of ASD.
- Having a sibling with ASD increase the likeliness of diagnosis.
- Fragile X syndrome increase the likeliness of diagnosis.
- Diagnosis for tuberous sclerosis increase the likeliness of diagnosis.
- Children whose mothers took valproic acid and thalidomide during pregnancy increase the likeliness of diagnosis.
- Babies born to older parents are more likely to be autistic.
- Pregnancies that are less than one year apart.
- Birth complication; premature birth (26 weeks or less).
- Problems during pregnancy such as drug use or complications causing oxygen loss.
- Watching television and/or hypnotic programs with music. Click here for info on this theory.
- Extreme Male Brain Theory deals with the sizing of portions of the brain, and how they relate to extreme male characteristics. Click here for more on this in depth theory.
- The Theory of Mind – thinking, believing, dreaming, etc.
- The Theory of Executive Dysfunction – attempts to explain the restrictions of ASD regarding interests, activities, and behaviors.
- Central Coherence Theory – Focus is on details and not the broader scope of life and situations. Lack of ability to transfer knowledge from one situation to another.
Understanding “Facts” About Autism
As you can plainly see, the “facts” about autism aren’t very specific. However, medical teams aren’t shooting in the dark with these claims either. There is growing data to support the direction of research today. Doctors aren’t questioning whether or not the factors above are contributing to ASD. The question is to what degree, and why these factors are present.
Do Vaccines Cause Autism?
Studies regarding vaccines, and their impact on ASD diagnosis, have been taking place for over two decades. The results of this research have found NO link between vaccines and autism. Many parents and doctors have their suspicions regarding this claim. However, there isn’t statistical evidence to support these concerns at this time.
Our current understanding of autism does not mean that the research can’t change paths down the road. However, for the time being, there is no reason to avoid vaccinations out of fears that it will cause autism spectrum disorder.
Spark: Igniting Autism Research, is a group that has recently gained a lot of popularity in the autism community. This is because Spark is using a strong marketing campaign to perform the largest genetic study of autism research in history.
Their goal is to collect data from 50k families worldwide. There is still has a long way to go before reaching such an ambitious goal. As of this writing, Spark is showing strong progress, with nearly 13k families who have already contributed to the research.
For Information visit: https://sparkforautism.org/
Will There Be A Cure For Autism?
Autism is a disorder. Much like other neurological disorders, there isn’t any sight of a cure in the foreseeable future. Doctors seek a “cure” when taking on a patient’s sickness or infection, and even then one is not always available.
By definition, a cure simply isn’t applicable to disorders as we understand them today. When performing research for a disorder, the goal is to find better treatment and therapies for the patient.
The term “cure” implies much more than the medical community can provide today regarding disorders.
As for treatments and therapies, quality improves every day, and with every family that adds to the research. Currently, the world is collectively pioneering their way through what autism is.
In the meantime, we are also learning about how to improve the lives of those with a diagnosis.
The best advice for a parent with an autistic child today, is to always do more research. Take the time to check out if there is any new research that would pertain to your situation.
Stay current with the news and see what medicines, treatments, and assistance is out there.
Similar to the doctors performing the research, families affected by autism would benefit from a life long learning approach to this disorder as well.
Growing Trends in Autism
In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association combined four diagnoses and placed them under the autism spectrum disorder qualification.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
- Asperger Syndrome
- Autistic Disorder
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
The American Psychiatric Association merged these four diagnoses together through the release of the DSM 5. (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5).
This merger of disorders led many to speculate that the increase in autism rates was a result of the broadened spectrum for diagnosis. What remains proven so far is that numbers of children with autism is increasing every day.
According to the CDC rates have risen since documentation began for ASD diagnosis. The trend shows a steady climb with rates growing from 1 in every 150 children in 2000, to 1 in every 59 children today. For added perspective the rates for autism in 1970 were 1 in every 2000 children.