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What is the cause of autism?

While there remains much to learn about the causes and biology of autism, there is now an increase in large scale international studies and it is hoped that this will lead to earlier identification of, and interventions to support, the condition.

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Causes of autism

Research into autism over the decades has developed from early ideas that the condition was caused by certain parenting styles (thankfully now generally refuted) (Jordan, 1999). Today there is a widely held understanding that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a biological basis. In addition there is strong evidence for a genetic component (Medical Research Council, 2001).  

While a precise cause for autism has not been established, it is recognised that there are ‘multiple biological components’ (Roth, 2010, p137) involved which impact on brain development. A genetic basis to autism, as indicated by the increased prevalence of certain genetic conditions (such as Fragile X syndrome; epilepsy and Tuberous sclerosis) in individuals with an ASD, is becoming increasingly evidenced. Environmental factors may also be implicated (Roth 2010).

 

While a precise cause for autism has not been established, it is recognised that there are ‘multiple biological components’ involved which impact on brain development.