Myths About Autism

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Autism also referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects the brain. This disability affects,

  • How they communicate or interact with others
  • Some may exhibit restricted interest or repetitive patterns of behavior, and 
  • Abnormal sensory responses. 

This observable manifestation varies and is dependent on an individual spectrum placement which ranges from mild to severe as documented in by authors Christensen and Zubler in the article- Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder: an evidence-based review of ASD risk factors, evaluation, and diagnosis.

Although inconclusive, studies suggest that there multiple factors which may contribute to autism development;

  • Genetics. Thapar and Rutter pointed out that studies on gene experiments in the last 40 years show that autism is hereditary. For instance, when a sibling has been diagnosed with ASD, it poses a risk for the younger one. It may also be stated by the authors; Sadik, Dardani, Pagoni, Havdahl, Stergiakouli, Khandaker, and Rai, in Parental inflammatory bowel disease and autism in children “Links between maternal genetic liability to IBD and autism in children may reflect the influence of the maternal genotype on the prenatal/intrauterine environment.”  
  • A child born to older parents
  • Prenatal exposure to valproic acid or thalidomide or Rubella infection
  • Preterm birth
  • Complications at birth

Although all of these have been identified as risk factors, “no single prenatal or perinatal factor has been found to have more than a modest association with ASD” says Christensen and Zubler.  

Facts about autism

  • Autism prevalence is four times higher in males than in females

A statistical report in Time trends in autism diagnosis over 20 years: a UK populationbased cohort study by 

Russell, Stapley, Newlove‐Delgado, Salmon, White, Warren, and Ford suggests that this trend could be that theirs is often less identified and diagnosed because they tend to show less intense autistic traits than their male counterparts.

  • 1 in 44 children has been diagnosed with autism

Unlike previously documented, authors Christensen and Zubler, Russell et al, highlighted that this rise in the prevalence of autism could be a result of increased reporting by family, schools, and social workers, the inclusion of those with a high intellectual ability like Asperger’s syndrome in the spectrum, those with mild symptoms, the practice of multiple autism identification tools.  

  • Autism is prevalent among all races.

However, its prevalence is higher among Whites when compared to children of Black and Hispanic origin- Christensen and Zubler.

  • Children diagnosed with autism may have comorbidities

Aside from the symptoms associated with autism in children, Christensen and Zubler, Sadik et al highlighted that such a child is more likely to be diagnosed with health issues like;

  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Aggressive behaviors that may result in self-harm 

FAQs on Autism

Can autism be caused by upbringing?

  • There is no documented association between parental upbringing and autism yet. 

Why is autism increasing?

  • The increase in the incidence and prevalence of autism could be an increase in reporting for proper clinical diagnosis, the inclusion of individuals with higher intellectual ability, and those with mild autism symptoms.

How autism is caused?

  • Several studies on the etiology of autism are inconclusive, rather some risk factors have been identified.

Why is autism so common now?

  • As stated earlier, the more there is reporting on autism symptoms being reported by family members, schools, and social workers for proper clinical diagnosis, the more evidence of its incidence. Hence, the increase in the number of autism prevalence.

Who carries the autism gene?

  • Although there is no clear link, a study by Sadik et al, found evidence that suggests an association between parental particularly, the maternal genetic liability to inflammatory bowel disease and autism.

Can too much TV cause autism?

  • Studies have suggested that prolonged electronic screen time for children increases the chance of developmental delays that may seem like autism symptoms in children.

Author: Jessica Damian

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References :

+ Christensen, D., & Zubler, J. (2020). From the CDC: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder: An evidence-based review of ASD risk factors, evaluation, and diagnosis. The American journal of nursing, 120(10), 30. Retrieved from; doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000718628.09065.1b. Accessed 6th September 2022.

+ Russell, G., Stapley, S., Newlove‐Delgado, T., Salmon, A., White, R., Warren, F., & Ford, T. (2022). Time trends in autism diagnosis over 20 years: a UK population‐based cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 63(6), 674-682. Retrieved from; doi:10.1111/jcpp.13505 Accessed 6th September 2022.

+ Sadik, A., Dardani, C., Pagoni, P., Havdahl, A., Stergiakouli, E., Khandaker, G. M., & Rai, D. (2022). Parental inflammatory bowel disease and autism in children. Nature Medicine, 1-6. Retrieved from; Accessed 6th September 2022.

+ Thapar, A., & Rutter, M. (2021). Genetic advances in autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 51(12), 4321-4332. Retrieved from Accessed 6th September 2022.


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