What causes autism? What we know, don’t know and suspect
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.
But research over the past 70 years has indicated this isn’t so. Into this knowledge gap have come all sorts of weird and wacky ideas about the causes of autism: television, power lines, vaccines and sex position during conception. None have any credence, but have fuelled the mystery surrounding what may cause autism.
A variety of genetic factors are likely to be the ultimate cause of most cases of autism. These may work by themselves, or in combination with environmental factors, to lead a child’s brain to develop differently and result in autistic behaviours.