The best description of the genetic contribution to onset of autism is that it is a complex disorder with many possible causes.
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Autism spectrum disorder what is it?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It is also characterized by restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and is about four times more common among boys than girls. Symptoms typically appear during the first three years of life. Some children with ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not be apparent until 24 months or later.
ASD affects each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe. Some people with ASD are able to lead relatively normal lives, while others may need a great deal of support to perform basic activities.
The genetic contribution to ASD
There is no one “autism gene,” but many genes have been implicated in the development of ASD. Scientists believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to the onset of ASD.
ASD tends to run in families, and siblings of children with ASD are at a higher risk for developing the condition than the general population. Studies of twins suggest that heritability plays a role in the development of ASD—if one identical twin has ASD, the other has a 70% chance of also being diagnosed with ASD.
However, genes are not the only factor that contributes to ASD. In some cases, specific environmental factors have been linked to an increased risk for developing ASD. For example, mothers who contract rubella (German measles) during pregnancy are at an increased risk for having a child with ASD. Additionally, exposure to certain chemicals—such as mercury—has also been linked to an increased risk for ASD.
It is important to remember that just because a person has a family member with ASD, or was exposed to certain environmental factors, does not mean that they will develop ASD. There is currently no way to predict who will or will not develop ASD based on genetic or environmental factors.
The environmental contribution to ASD
It’s important to remember that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers are still working to identify all of the genes involved in ASD. But they have found that many genes are involved, and each one contributes a small amount to the overall risk. In other words, ASD is not caused by any one gene. Instead, it’s likely caused by a combination of many different genes and possibly even environmental factors.
The role of genes in ASD
There is no one answer to this question as researchers are still working to identify all of the genes that may be involved in the development of ASD. However, we do know that ASD is strongly influenced by genetics, with estimates suggesting that heritability (the percentage of variance in a trait that can be attributed to genetic factors) for ASD may be as high as 90%. This means that genetics plays a much bigger role in ASD than environmental factors.
Most researchers believe that there are many different genes involved in the development of ASD. These genes likely work together with other genetic and environmental factors to influence the development of ASD. One theory is that ASD results from the combined effect of multiple “risk” genes, each of which only has a small effect. In other words, it is not any one gene alone that causes ASD, but rather the combination of several risk genes. This theory is supported by research showing that ASD is more common in families with a history of autism (suggesting a genetic contribution) and also by studies identifying multiple risk genes for ASD.
The role of the environment in ASD
The role of the environment in ASD
The most recent research has shown that ASD is largely caused by genetic factors, with the environment playing a minor role. However, the specific genes involved in ASD are not yet known, and it is likely that multiple genes are involved.
How do genes and the environment interact in ASD?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. ASD onset is characterized by early developmental delays or unusual behaviors that differ from typical development. Although the cause of ASD is currently unknown, research suggests that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of this condition.
What we know about the causes of ASD
ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, and behavior. ASD begins in early childhood, and symptoms can persist into adulthood. Although the causes of ASD are not yet fully understood, it is clear that both genetics and the environment play a role in its development.
Most experts agree that ASD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Studies of identical twins have shown that if one twin has ASD, the other has a high chance of also being affected – indicating that genetics plays a role in the development of the disorder. However, no single gene has been identified as causing ASD. Instead, it is thought that multiple genes – as well as environmental factors – contribute to the development of the condition.
What we still don’t know about the causes of ASD
ASD can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
There is no one single gene that causes ASD. Instead, multiple genes and environmental factors are thought to play a role in the development of ASD.
ASD is not caused by a single event or experience, such as vaccination or exposure to toxins. Several lines of evidence support the idea that ASD is caused by an interaction between genes and the environment.
The implications of ASD for individuals and families
There is no single answer to the question of what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
researchers have identified a number of gene mutations that are associated with an increased risk for ASD. However, it is important to note that most people with ASD do not have any of these known gene mutations. This suggests that other genetic and/or environmental factors are involved in the development of ASD.
Some environmental factors that have been linked to an increased risk for ASD include exposure to certain toxins or infections during pregnancy, premature birth, and low birth weight. There is also some evidence that maternal obesity may be a risk factor for ASD.
Looking to the future: research and treatments for ASD
It is now widely accepted that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although much progress has been made in understanding the causes of ASD, we still have much to learn.
A better understanding of the genetics of ASD should eventually lead to more effective treatments. In the meantime, there are a number of interventions that can help people with ASD improve their skills and quality of life.
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.