It’s always difficult to understand what the causes of autism are when your child is diagnosed with autism, it can be a scary and confusing time. But for most parents, the fear and confusion fades quickly, and is replaced with a strong desire to learn as much about autism as possible.
Here we’ll talk about what autism is, the symptoms of autism, and some of the leading ideas about what the causes of autism are. There is also some related information on Asperger syndrome that may be helpful.
Autism is a brain disorder that affects the brain’s development of social and communication skills. Generally diagnosed in the first three years of life, with early treatment those with autism can reach their full potential and live happy and productive lives, in spite of the challenges that autism presents.
If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you already know that the symptoms include delayed speech, the appearance of deafness (despite normal hearing tests), a lack of eye contact, and repeated and/or overused behaviors. But despite these “typical” symptoms, there is no typical type of autism.
Symptoms and behaviors are varied from person to person, and can range from very mild to very severe.
Despite numerous, ongoing studies, no specific causes of autism have yet been identified. However, because autism tends to run in families, researchers believe that it has a genetic component, and are working to identify what that component might be. Other causes of autism have been suggested, including:
- Changes in the digestive tract
- Mercury poisoning
- A body’s inability to properly use vitamins and minerals
- Sensitivity to vaccines
None of these causes have been proven or disproven by research, except for the last one.
Controlled, scientific studies have shown that vaccines (namely the MMR vaccine) do not cause autism, and that there are dangerous, severe risks associated with not vaccinating your child. So rest assured that the vaccinations your child had as an infant had nothing to with him or her developing autism.
Since research is still trying to identify what the causes of autism are, it’s not important to focus on where it came from.
As a parent, what is important to focus on is ways to help your autistic child learn to interact with others. This will include behavioral therapy, and sometimes physical and speech therapy as well.
Medication is also used sometimes to treat disorders that commonly occur alongside autism, such as depression. Talk with your child’s doctor about the appropriate treatment, and find an autism support group for ideas and support.
Understanding the causes of autism can go a long way to helping you understand, and ultimately help your child develop.