There are a lot of parents out there who have a lot of questions about autism and their children. And while there are many different types of questions surrounding autism, there is one question that maybe doesn’t get as much attention as others—“If I have autism, will my child have it as well?”
There is still a lot to learn on this topic and this is still a question that many people have regarding autism. Here’s what to know about autism being passed down from one generation to the next.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that leads to difficulty with social interaction, communication, and behavior. This developmental disability is caused by differences in the brain. As the name suggests, this condition is a spectrum, meaning different people have differing levels of severity when it comes to ASD.
Typically, the signs of autism develop before children reach the age of three and can last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms can improve over time. This is especially true for individuals who try therapies and interventions including popular behavioral therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) that will help individuals with autism improve a variety of skills.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?
There are still so many questions about autism spectrum disorder because experts still don’t know exactly what causes ASD. While there are some factors that researchers feel could make someone more or less likely to have autism, there’s still no one known cause.
Here are some of the factors that have suspected correlation to autism spectrum disorder:
- Being born to older parents
- Difficult birth
- Infections during pregnancy
So, while genetics is a factor in determining correlation regarding whether or not someone is more likely to have autism—it isn’t necessarily a cause.
There are also additional factors that researchers are looking into, including taking certain medications during pregnancy. However, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to find more concrete information on potential correlations.
Why Is It Important to Know If You Have a Family Health History of Autism Spectrum Disorder?’
Having a family health history of autism spectrum disorder will make you more likely to have a child with ASD or to have ASD yourself. While it doesn’t necessarily mean that if the parent has ASD the child will as well, but there are some correlations when it comes to family history and this condition.
When collection family health history information, here’s what to include:
- Information on you and your partner’s children, parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Its important to include the entire extended family, so that experts can see the full picture of the family history.
- Make sure you are aware if anyone in your family has had relevant genetic testing, as well as the results of that testing.
- When giving family health information, in addition to including anyone with a diagnosis of ASD, make sure to give information on anyone who has a learning disorder, intellectual disability, schizophrenia, seizures, personality disorders or ADHD. This can also help with developing a complete family history.
- Make sure to check if anyone in your family with fragile X syndrome or Rett syndrome.
- Make sure to be clear on anyone who has received a diagnosis that is no longer used such as Asperger syndrome or mental retardation.
- If you suspect that someone older in your family has or had ASD, but they were not properly diagnosed because it was not common at the time—make sure to follow up.
An overall family health history is important if you suspect that your child may have ASD. Looking at a complete family history is one way to determine if this condition may run in your family.
While having autism can increase your likelihood of having a family member with autism, it doesn’t necessarily mean your child will have autism. Essentially, having a family history as mentioned before, makes you more likely to have a child with ASD or to have ASD yourself.
If you have one child with ASD, you are more likely to have another child with ASD, especially if you have a female child on the spectrum or if you already have multiple children with ASD. In fact, parents who have one child with ASD have between a 2 to 18 percent greater chance of having a second child with autism. This also means that your other family members would be more likely to have a child with ASD.
Genetic testing is more likely to find a genetic cause for autism if:
- Your child or another family member have been diagnosed with syndromic ASD
- You have a family member with ASD-related genetic changes that are reported during genetic testing.
- Multiple members within the family have been diagnosed with ASD
Remember, this information should be looked at as a whole and as part of a bigger picture, especially if you are trying to get a diagnosis for your child. Typically, you can start taking them in for diagnosis as young as 18 months.
Having a family history of autism does not necessarily mean that someone has autism, but it is an important factor to consider.
If you suspect that your child has autism, it is important that you take them to a doctor for further diagnosis. During this time, your doctor will likely ask you questions related to family history to help them with their diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is not a single medical test, swab or blood test that can firmly diagnose autism spectrum disorder. This is why when you bring your child in for an autism diagnosis, your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions about what you are seeing with your child’s behavior, and insight on your family history and background to make their diagnosis.
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.
- Explaining Autism to a Child with Autism: A Guide for Parents - September 20, 2023
- Non-Profit Organizations That Provide Activities for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder - September 20, 2023
- Understanding the Intersection of Autism and Alexithymia - September 5, 2023