Advanced parent age (either parent)
Pregnancy and birth complications (e.g. extreme prematurity [before 26 weeks], low birth weight,
multiple pregnancies [twin, triplet, etc.])
Pregnancies spaced less than one year apart
Prenatal vitamins containing Folic acid, before and at conception and through pregnancy
No effect on risk.
Vaccines. Each family has a unique experience with an autism diagnosis, and for some it corresponds with
the timing of their child’s vaccinations. At the same time, researchers have conducted extensive research
over the last two decades to determine whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.
The results of this research is clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics has
compiled a comprehensive list of this research.
Differences in brain biology
How do these genetic and non-genetic influences give rise to autism? Most appear to affect crucial aspects of
early brain development. Some appear to affect how brain nerve cells, or neurons, communicate with each
other. Others appear to affect how entire regions of the brain communicate with each other. Research
continues to explore these differences with an eye to developing treatments and supports that can improve
quality of life.
Asperger syndrome, or Asperger’s, is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum. In 2013, it became
part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5).
Though the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome is no longer used, many previously diagnosed people still identify
strongly and positively with being an “Aspie.”
* Cognitive behavioral therapy can help address anxiety and other personal challenges.
* Social skills training classes can help with conversational skills and understanding social cues.
* Speech therapy can help with voice control.
* Physical and occupational therapy can improve coordination.
* Psychoactive medicines can help manage associated anxiety, depression and attention deficit
and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
How has our understanding evolved?
1944: Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger described four strikingly similar young patients. They had normal
to high intelligence. But they lacked social skills and had extremely narrow interests. The children also shared
a tendency to be clumsy.
1981: British psychiatrist Lorna Wing published a series of similar case studies. In it, she coined the term
1994: Asperger syndrome listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
2003: Asperger syndrome and other previously separate types of autism folded into
one umbrella diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder” in DSM-5.
- - - - - - - - -
Can autism develop (vs show up) later?
Some children show signs from birth. Others seem to develop normally at first, only to suddenly show
symptoms when they are 18 to 36 months old. However, it is now recognized that some individuals may not
show symptoms of a communication disorder until demands of the environment exceed their capabilities.
Can you suddenly become autistic?
In the case of high-functioning autism, for example, it's not unusual for a child (or even an adult) to
receive a diagnosis much later than most children are diagnosed with autism—but that's not because
symptoms suddenly developed. See the MAIN page.
Do autistic toddlers smile & laugh?
A child at risk for autism may not smile or laugh in response to your smile or playfulness although
he/she may smile at you on their own and look very happy.
Sources and Resources:
Autism Speaks at www.autismspeaks.org/
Movie: Boy called Po.
Young girl with autism finds her voice at 11, and speaks about how it feels inside:
Watch the video: https://youtu.be/a1uPf5O-on0
For Additional Facts and Figures
Check this link: https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-facts-and-figures
One of the most common questions asked after a diagnosis of autism, is what caused
it? There is no one cause of autism. Research suggests that autism develops from a
combination of genetic and non-genetic, or environmental, influences. These influences
appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that increased risk is not the same as cause. For
example, some gene changes associated with autism can also be found in people who
don’t have the "disorder." Similarly, not everyone exposed to an environmental risk factor
for autism will develop it. In fact, most will not.
Autism’s genetic risk factors
Research reveals that autism tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase
the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene
changes, they may get passed to a child (even if the parent does not have autism).
Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the
sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, the majority of these
gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They imply increase risk for it.
Autism’s environmental risk factors
Research also shows that certain environmental influences may further increase – or reduce
– autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Importantly, the
increase or decrease in risk appears to be small for any one of these risk factors:
Klaas Tuinman M.A.
Life Self-Empowerment Facilitation
at Dawn Cove Abbey
Comments and Questions are welcomed