Chapter 2 – What Are the Factors that Contribute to Autism

Autism is a mystery for most health care professionals. They have found no one clear cause for autism though there are several factors that are common throughout the research. The most common is that autistic sufferers have abnormalities in their brain. When compared to non-autistic people, autistic brains are shaped differently and function differently. There are many theories concerning the factors that contribute to autism in which genetics, heredity, and environmental aspects are suspected. The genetic theory is supported that in some families there are patterns of disabilities and mental illness that are frequent and autism is considered a part of this pattern.

What causes the mutations or the passing of the autistic gene is uncertain. Some researchers believe that a group of unstable genes interferes with the development of the brain during the early years of life, and these genes rearrange themselves to hinder the proper realignment of brain tissue. If this is truly a factor for the contribution to autism then it cannot be stopped with today’s medical knowledge. If the genes are isolated, genetic screening before pregnancy can determine if the parents have a predisposition to give birth to an autistic child.

Environmental factors have been another theory that researchers have come up with. The research for this idea is very sketchy and according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry there has been no link between autism and an outside source such as chemicals or other toxins in the environment. Remember that this may be a link and the research is just not showing the connection yet. With all the pollution that is in our air and water and all the contaminants we consume in our food, there is all likelihood that environmental factors are indeed a piece in the puzzle.

Physical medical condition has shown a possibilityy of being a contributing factor. Conditions such as tuberous sclerosis and congenital rubella syndrome has yielded results that there is a high percentage of autistic manifestations after diagnosis. And phenylketonuria, also known as PKU and fragile X syndrome has been known to contribute a high number of cases that also link themselves to autism. The jury is still out to whether these conditions have percentages high enough to officially correlate evidence which leads to autism, but at this point the suspicion is there.

The contributing factors are sketchy at best, but there are factors that you can rule out. For some reason autistic kids have a predisposition to the autistic condition. You can’t blame the parents for the parents have no control over their DNA. If a family does have a high occurrence of disabilities, they should still have the right and the ability to procreate and to have happiness as a family. Environmental conditions also are not completely to blame, unless a parent intentionally puts toxins into their bodies before or during pregnancy. Some say that drugs and alcohol consumption by the parent is a contributing factor. So far there is no link to drugs, alcohol, or alcohol fetal syndrome and autism. For now we have to accept autism for what it is. The child, parents, or genetics are not to be blamed, until there is more research done and more evidence which points to one contributing factor. For now, until that research is done we must do everything we can to let the silent voices be heard and help those already afflicted with this terrible disorder.

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