Researchers are still unsure of the origin and causes of autism

Causes and research The benefits of early intervention for kids with an ASD Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD who received early intervention tend to have better brain function, communication skills and overall social behavior compared to ASD children with no early intervention, researchers from the Yale School of Medicine reported in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder November issue. The new technique incorporates learning and development factors which are easy to use with very young children. Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute reported in the journal Cell November issue that they are discovering how genetic mutations can be responsible for the behavioral and cognitive problems found in people with an ASD.

Researchers are still unsure of the origin and causes of autism

Messenger This is a long read, enjoy. One of the great and enduring mysteries of autism is what causes the brain to develop so differently. The behavioural differences of many individuals with autism are so apparent that it seems intuitive that the causes would also be obvious.

Into this knowledge gap have come all sorts of weird and wacky ideas about the causes of autism: None have any credence, but have fuelled the mystery surrounding what may cause autism. In the s and s, there was a widely held belief that autism was caused by parental coldness towards the child.

This inaccurate belief left a legacy of shame and guilt in the autism community for at least the following two decades. Several eminent scientists eventually extinguished the myth.

Two of them were themselves parents of children with autism, and they highlighted a major flaw in the theory: Since this time, research has focused on biological factors that may lead to autistic behaviours.

This has found very clearly there is no one cause of autism. A variety of genetic factors are likely to be the ultimate cause of most cases of autism.

Genetics To examine the influences of nature genetics and nurture environment on a given human quality, scientists study twins. Identical twins share all of their DNA and, assuming they grow up in the same household, they will also share all of their environment.

Fraternal twins also share all of their environment, but only around half of their DNA, just like non-twin siblings. Twin studies start by defining a clear population, say the metropolitan area of a city, and finding as many sets of twins as possible in that area where one or both of the twins have the given trait of interest — in this case, autism.

If the concordance is higher for identical twins than fraternal twins, then we can say the difference is due to the increased amount of genetic material shared by the identical twins, and that autism is influenced by genetics.

Twin studies provided the first evidence autism may be genetic. While the study was only small in size, it provided the first evidence that autism may be genetic in origin. Since this pioneering study, more than a dozen further twin studies have confirmed this original observation.

This indicates a strong genetic component to the condition. Once scientists have established that the cause of a disorder is influenced by genes, the next task is to identify the exact genes that might be involved.

However, after several decades of intensive research, scientists could find no one genetic mutation that all individuals diagnosed with autism shared. It was these findings or lack of findings that led scientists to stop thinking of autism as one condition with one cause.

They started viewing it as many different conditions which all have relatively similar behavioural symptoms. This new view of autism has proved extremely fruitful in discovering subtypes of autism.

For example, a number of conditions have very clear genetic or chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to autistic behaviours. These include disorders that have abnormalities of the chromosomes, such as Down syndrome.

The exact genetic abnormalities that may lead to the remaining cases of autism are not completely clear. There are two reasons for this.

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The first is that the genetic regions involved are likely to be very complex. Scientists have needed to develop new techniques to examine them.

Researchers are still unsure of the origin and causes of autism

The second is that it is probable the genetic mutations are very rare and complex. The DNA chain that forms our chromosomes contains more than 3 billion building blocks. To identify small pieces of DNA that may be linked to the development of autism among so many base pairs, scientists need to study a very large number of people with autism.

To date, no study has been able to examine the thousands of people necessary to identify with accuracy all of the small mutations that might lead to autism.

This refers to differences in genes that are also found in many individuals who do not have autism and which by themselves are not sufficient to lead to autism. However, when multiple genetic risk factors are found in the same person, they combine to have a major effect on how the brain develops.The study led by researchers from the Ichan School of Medicine in New York reanalysed a Swedish longitudinal study that involved over million pairs of siblings, 37, pairs of twins, and just under a million half-sibling pairs.

Researchers do not know the exact causes of autism but are investigating a number of theories, including the links among heredity, genetics and medical problems.

Mar 02,  · Scientists don't know exactly what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism was first described in the s, but very little was known about it until the last few decades.

Even today, there is a great deal that we don't know about autism. Researchers, health professionals, parents, and persons with ASD all have strong opinions about the direction future autism research should take.

Everyone would like to find a cure for autism. Autism has no one single cause, both in terms of genes and the brain. In a minority of cases, there are very clear genetic abnormalities that cause autism.

Researchers still aren’t entirely sure how it’s involved in this process, but a lack of ECS receptors or of the enzymes that produce their signallers leads to many of the cognitive impairments associated with autism disorders.

Causes - Autism Society