While it’s human nature to question the cause of illness, autism is a challenging condition to pinpoint. This article will explore the possible causes of autism and provide you resources for further exploration. Let’s start learning about autism today – so you can get informed and make a difference.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurological disorder affecting how people interact with their environment and process information. The term “autism” is often used to refer to a range of different conditions collectively known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
On the autism spectrum, there are three levels of ASD – Level 1 (mild), Level 2 (moderate), and Level 3 (severe). People with mild or moderate ASD may have difficulty communicating verbally or through social interactions but may still be able to develop relationships and live independently.
Those with severe ASD may require more intensive support and have difficulty communicating or forming relationships. It seems that autism is becoming increasingly common, mainly due to better diagnosis methods and greater awareness of the condition among healthcare professionals, parents and educators.
Despite years of research, the causes of autism are still unclear, but we will do our best to list what scientists have discovered.
What Causes Autism?
Autism can have numerous potential causes. We use the word “potential” because nothing has been proven scientifically, yet associations between specific risk factors and ASD do exist.
In some cases, a genetic difference has been identified as the cause of ASD in an individual. On the other hand, there are also cases where the underlying cause of autism remains unknown. It is difficult to pinpoint one specific cause because the condition is so incredibly complex and varies from person to person in how it affects their abilities.
Abilities of Those With Autism
People on the spectrum have a wide range of abilities. While they may not communicate, interact, and learn as most people do, this does not mean they are less capable. In fact, some individuals with ASD demonstrate remarkable capabilities in areas such as communication and learning.
For instance, some people on the spectrum can engage in conversations at an advanced level; however, others may be nonverbal or only able to use limited language. Some individuals require significant assistance for day-to-day activities, while others can work and live independently without much help from others.
No matter where someone falls on the spectrum, they possess unique skills and talents and deserve our acceptance as vibrant, creative, contributing members of society. Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors for ASD.
Risk Factors for ASD
Research has identified several potential risk factors that may make a child more prone to autism. These include environmental, biological, and genetic influences. Let’s break those down further for you:
Environmental Risk Factors Include:
- Toxic exposure to certain chemicals or pollution during pregnancy
- Exposure to viruses during pregnancy
- Low birth weight due to poor prenatal care or premature births
- Birth complications such as oxygen deprivation during delivery
Biological Risk Factors Include:
- Being born to older parents
- Genetic mutations can be passed down from parents or arise spontaneously
- Abnormal levels of certain hormones and proteins in the brain
- Having a brother or sister with ASD
Genetic Risk Factors
- Family history of ASD or other autism spectrum disorders
- Certain gene mutations that have been linked to ASD, such as fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex
While the exact cause of autism is still unknown, researchers believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors likely causes it. The next question we need to ask ourselves is, how often does autism spectrum disorder occur?
How Often Does ASD Occur
Autism spectrum disorder is becoming increasingly more common in today’s society. Recent studies have estimated that one child in 100 worldwide is diagnosed with autism, while 1 in 44 children is currently diagnosed in the U.S., which means that nearly 1% of the earth’s population has some form of this disorder.
This number is increasing yearly and is much higher than just a few decades ago when the diagnosis rate was estimated to be around 1 in 150. The reasons for this drastic increase are not completely clear, but experts believe a combination of improved diagnostic techniques and increased awareness may be responsible for this situation.
While all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups can experience ASD, it is more than four times more common among boys than girls – often occurring in 1 out of every 27 males. Despite the prevalence of ASD, many unanswered questions are still concerning its causes.
Scientists and researchers constantly explore new theories and possible explanations for why some individuals develop this disorder while others do not. If you’re worried you or your loved one might have ASD, there are a couple of options for you.
If You’re Concerned
If you are concerned that your child may have autism, you must talk to your doctor for a referral to a specialist. Your doctor can refer you to a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician specializing in autism diagnosis and treatment.
Once diagnosed, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is often recommended as the first course of action for treating children with autism. ABA therapy focuses on teaching new skills through positive reinforcement and breaking down tasks into small steps, making them easier for the child to understand and complete. It also provides strategies for communication, behavior management, social interaction, play skills and self-care.
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out for help and support from medical professionals, family members or autism-specific organizations such as Autism Speaks or the Autism Society of America. With the right knowledge and resources, you can make a positive difference in your child’s life.
If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.
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