This is a frequently asked question as more and more people are diagnosed with autism. Autism is not just about the symptoms, but what causes it in the first place. What can be done to help those affected?
The “what causes autism” is a question that can be answered with a variety of different answers. There are many different causes for Autism, but the main cause seems to be genetics.
Autism is not a new condition. The illness was first discussed in the 1940s by researchers. But, even in 2021, there are still unanswered questions. What exactly does the diagnosis imply? How does autism progress? Is it possible to avoid it?
Researchers comb through the data every year in search of answers to these problems. And with each passing year, we learn a bit more about what autism is and how we may help those who have it.
Here’s a rundown of what academics and specialists currently know, as well as techniques you may use to help someone you care about.
What Exactly Is Autism?
It’s difficult to put into words what autism is. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all condition, as Autism Speaks notes. Instead, the phrase refers to a wide variety of circumstances that fall somewhere on a spectrum.
Every person with autism has difficulties in the following areas:
- Social abilities. It’s frequently tough to maintain eye contact and have a reciprocal discussion.
- Behaviours that are repetitive or restricting. It’s typical to find yourself repeating phrases, focused on one issue to the exclusion of others, or dealing with regular adjustments.
- Nonverbal and verbal communication. Sing-song or loud speech is often heard, which may be accompanied by an inability to understand body language.
Some persons with autism have relatively minor symptoms, while others need assistance with daily tasks.
According to the Autism Society, symptoms may worsen as individuals get older and society lays larger demands on them. People must acquire the problem in childhood, even if it stays undetected until later in life, in order to fulfill diagnostic criteria. Symptoms usually occur by the age of two.
What Are the Causes of Autism?
Although no one knows for sure what causes autism, research is underway. We’re closer than we’ve ever been to figuring out why issues arise and what families can do to avoid them.
According to Autism Speaks, the following factors increase the likelihood of autism:
- Genetics. Autism is a condition that runs in families. If a parent struggles with it, their children are more likely to do so as well.
- Ages of the parents. If parents wait until later in life to establish a family, their children are more likely to develop autism.
- Complications during childbirth or pregnancy. Autism is more likely in babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight. Twins and triplets have the same problem.
- Pregnancies that are close together. A child’s risk of autism is increased if there is less than a year between a new pregnancy and a previous birth.
Increased risks do not imply causation. A mother with two children who are close in age does not always have two children with autism. These characteristics, however, have been related to an increased chance of acquiring the disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health, hazards and causes are likely to mix and overlap. It’s possible that individuals require a combination of risk factors to acquire the disease.
Part of what makes autism research so challenging is its intricacy. To account for all of the variables and how they interact, researchers must conduct long-term studies with neurotypical and autistic youngsters. They must then pluck out each element one by one. That job hasn’t been completed yet.
Some medical disorders have been linked to an increased risk of autism, according to research. These are some of the conditions:
- Rubella syndrome is a congenital condition.
- Fragile X syndrome is a condition that affects people of all ages.
- If left untreated, phenylketonuria (PKU) develops.
- Tuberous sclerosis is a disease that affects the nervous system.
They also understand the need of prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins used frequently throughout the first month of pregnancy may reduce the incidence of autism, according to research. Some women may not even realize they’re pregnant at this point. Those that do know, on the other hand, have the chance to supply critical nourishment to help with baby brain development.
Moms might also seek for ways to decrease their children’s exposure to pollutants. Lead paint, smog, and cigarette smoke are all harmful to children. They may also raise the likelihood of a kid getting autism.
Because research in this field is continuous, with new studies released on a regular basis, mothers should speak with their physicians about what to avoid and what could be safe. Doctors are the most up-to-date source of knowledge.
What Is the Process for Diagnosing Autism?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 54 children has been diagnosed with autism. Every year, that number appears to rise, and many people wonder why that is.
The use of laboratory testing to diagnose autism or put persons on the spectrum is not recommended. Instead, clinicians make diagnoses based on interviews and observations. People must exhibit the characteristics associated with autism, and they must do so early in life.
It’s probable that in 2021, there may be more risk factors for autism than in the past. If, for example, dirty air may cause autism and air quality is deteriorating year after year, this might explain the rising number of children diagnosed.
However, it’s also likely that doctors have become more competent at detecting autism symptoms and are ready to classify persons with relatively minor impairments with the diagnosis. This might lead to an increase in the number of diagnoses.
Professionals examine the following to make a diagnosis:
- Physical characteristics. Doctors cannot establish a diagnosis using a brain scan or blood test. People with autism, on the other hand, may exhibit physical symptoms such as flailing hands, monotonous speech, or a lack of eye contact.
- Interviews with patients. Doctors speak with their patients and inquire about their reactions to everyday contacts and conversations.
- Other interviews are available. Professionals often benefit from the input of parents, instructors, and colleagues.
Doctors may examine for comorbidities as well. According to researchers, persons with autism are more likely to have these conditions:
Blood testing and lab tests may sometimes aid in the diagnosis of these problems. A contrast test, for example, might aid physicians in detecting gastrointestinal diseases in which food isn’t flowing as swiftly as it should.
However, some disorders need even more interviews to diagnose. For persons with autism, this may be challenging.
Researchers point out that tests used to detect mental problems like depression are designed with neurotypicals in mind. Someone with autism may not comprehend or react to the questions in the manner that the writers intended. This might result in either an overdiagnosis or an underdiagnosis.
These tests can only be administered and interpreted by trained mental health professionals with lots of expertise, so persons with autism may get the treatment they need.
Parents want the best for their kids and want to be there for them as they grow up. When a kid is diagnosed with autism, parents are faced with extra challenges.
Autism diets that remove casein (present in dairy products) and gluten are available online for parents seeking for a home autism therapy (found in wheat, rye, and barley). This is an unsubstantiated notion, according to the American Academy of Dietetics. There is no credible data to suggest that removing these two dietary components would make a person with autism better or worse.
However, persons with autism encounter significant dietary issues, such as:
- Sensitivities to smell For some people with autism, strong scents can be disorienting or overwhelming. Blue cheese and marinara sauce, for example, have a strong smell signature that might be disturbing.
- Aversions to certain textures. For some persons with autism, crunchy or crackling foods might be distressing. Instead, they could favor soft, pliable meals.
- Concerns about consistency. For some persons with autism, routine and predictability are essential. They may want to consume the same foods every day, with little or no variation.
Poor diet is widespread among persons with autism as a result of problems like these. According to Autism Speaks, atypical eating habits raise a child’s likelihood of social issues and low academic achievement.
Before attempting to change a child’s diet, experts suggest checking out underlying health issues. GI problems that cause stomach distress may make anybody choosy.
Encourage your youngster to try once those options have been addressed. Offer a variety of foods and encourage the youngster to touch, smell, or chew on them. If a youngster expresses a strong aversion for a certain meal, inquire as to why. You might encourage your youngster to explore new things while also improving his or her speech abilities.
Parents have a critical part in assisting autistic children in understanding how to flourish in the world. Every day, you may have discussions about clothes, toilet training, and communication. Your remarks will sometimes pierce the surface. They don’t always comply.
When feasible, experts advise connecting with support groups. Consult other parents who are parenting children with autism and take advantage of their best practices and advice. When you’re having a bad day, reach out and seek for support. Encourage others in return. To properly help your kid, you’ll need your own network of support.
ASD Treatment Options
In 2021, parents can do a lot to aid their autistic children at home. However, children often need more than their parents can provide. Therapists fill in the gaps and assist children in developing important abilities.
The most common treatment for autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. ABA entails:
- Observation. Professionals determine what reinforces or removes a child’s triggers.
- Segmentation. Brushing your teeth, for example, is broken down into simple stages.
- Positive reinforcement is really important. A modest reward is given after completing each stage.
- Repetition. The youngster repeats the job with lesser incentives until it becomes second nature.
According to experts, ABA is comparable to what parents do every day at home. These approaches were undoubtedly employed to assist your youngster speak or crawl, for example. However, ABA offers these ideas structure and support so that professionals may implement them consistently.
The ABA has its detractors. Some autistic persons believe that the treatment works by suppressing their natural coping mechanisms. When persons with autism are overcome by emotion, they may flap their hands or whirl. They may not believe they need treatment to resist the impulse to proceed in that direction since they find the strategy effective.
However, the treatment may assist persons with autism in completing key activities that will allow them to live independently. If a kid emerges from therapy with the capacity to go to the toilet on his or her own, he or she may choose to attend school rather than study at home.
Clients are listened to by modern therapists. It’s not about creating a youngster that reacts to particular stimuli in a predetermined manner. It’s about assisting a youngster in communicating and flourishing. This requires a unique strategy that is suited to each child’s requirements.
For both children and parents, ABA can be a lot of fun. According to the researchers, therapists and technicians utilize entertaining approaches with young children, such as joyful voices and appreciation claps. They share their feelings and make the therapy enjoyable.
Finding the appropriate ABA provider might take some time. Finding a practitioner who would listen to a youngster and make the therapy enjoyable is crucial. It’s also crucial to choose a qualified and certified practitioner. However, with the correct practitioner and assistance, this treatment may be very beneficial to youngsters.
The “what causes autism in adults” is a question that has been asked for a while. It was not until recently that we have been able to understand the different causes of Autism.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main cause of autism?
A: As of yet, there is no official diagnosis for autism. However, researchers believe the main cause may be genetic abnormalities or a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
What are 3 causes of autism?
A: Autism is a complex neurological disorder. Some studies have found that autism might be caused by genetic mutations, environmental factors such as air pollution or lack of oxygen during pregnancy and childhood immune system disorders such as allergies (that can cause inflammation in the brain). Other causes could include prenatal exposure to radiation from X-rays and other treatments given at birth.
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.