American children.1 Autism is a developmental disorder that may also be referred to as
Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD. This physical condition is a disease of the brain that
is present from birth. Autism is recognizable by the various obstructions it produces in
social, language, learning and motor skills development and is observable by the age of
three. It is a disorder that has the ability to change the lives of those affected forever.
Though the causes are generally unknown, many theories have been produced in regards
to the triggers of autistic disorder. Scientists and researchers have noted a divergent list
of possible factors that lead to autism. Some of the causes include genetic predisposition,
diet, mercury poisoning as well as sensitivity to vaccines. In recent times it has been
realized that the relative amount of children diagnosed with autism has been on the rise.
However, it is unclear if this change results from an actual increased presence of the
disorder or whether diagnosis of the problem has become more common.2
Autism affects the natural chemical and biological homeostasis of the brain. This
disease may cause children to exhibit difficulty or lack of communication and learning
ability. Those affected may not be able to coherently produce speech like others of a
similar age range because they do not learn as easily as others. In addition, “People with
autism have problems talking and understanding, and they usually have poor social
skills.”3 Those affected usually cannot correctly discern verbal and nonverbal social
Lennard-Brown, Sarah. Autism. Chicago, IL: Raintree, 2004. Print. "NINDS Autism Information Page." Autism Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Web. 21 Mar. 2012. 3 Freedman, Jeri. Autism. New York, NY: Rosen Pub., 2009. Print.
gestures, usually misusing these cues themselves. Other symptoms of autistic disorder
include limited social abilities that cause those affected to often be socially awkward and
reclusive. Autistic people often spend time alone and have a hard time expressing and
sensing emotions. Those with ASD may have either depressed or heightened reactions to
sensory information. Autism usually causes people to follow repetitive or ritualistic
behaviors, and those who suffer show interest in only a narrow range of topics, of which
they may develop mastery due to repeated attentiveness to the subjects. 4
This is a terrible disorder which dramatically changes the lives of those
affected, as well as their loved ones. Scientists and researchers have been exploring
the range of possible causes of Autism in hopes to further understand the problem
and hopefully discover a solution. Though there is still very little known about the
disorder, understanding of autism has improved greatly overtime. During the 1950’s,
“Some doctors concluded that autism was caused by cold mothers who neglected their
children.”4 This was an extremely primitive hypothesis and it obvious that we must
continue researching causes as well as cures for ASD. There are no known treatments for
the disorder itself, however therapy and medication may help to remediate some of the
One of the most researched possible triggers of autistic disorder is genetics. The
link between autism and genetics is well supported by research and is widely accepted.
“Researchers have long known that genes play a role in autism,” and, “Studies of twins
Lennard-Brown, Sarah. Autism. Chicago, IL: Raintree, 2004. 17-21 Print.
suggest that as many as 90 percent of autism cases may have a genetic link.” 5 Medical
scientists have noted a large connection between autism and other genetic neurological
problems. It was realized that, “neuropsychiatric disorders (depression,...