Autism is a complex neurological condition that manifests in varying degrees of severity, measured along what’s called the autism spectrum. People on the autistic spectrum generally have issues communicating and forming relationships, and show significant differences in the way their brains function, affecting behavior, motor skills, thought processes, sensory experiences and more. While many families and individuals experience this condition as disruptive and challenging, some people on the autism spectrum show remarkable traits associated with genius-level mental abilities and talents. Obviously, our understanding of this common condition is still quite limited.
Amid the emerging research however, one fact is clear: The rates of autism are rising. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in 50 children may have an autism spectrum disorder, an increase from one in 88 children estimated five years prior. These numbers have been going up for decades. And while it’s true we are better at diagnosing these conditions, improved diagnosis alone doesn’t account for the increase in numbers.
Complex And Debilitating
Given autism’s complex, often debilitating symptoms and growing prevalence, it’s no wonder that people want to figure out what’s causing it. However, we need to be careful when assessing blame. There may be a variety of causes, including genetics and environment. In fact, a new study shows that people with autism are more likely to be missing specific genes, carrying only one copy of a certain gene when they should normally have two copies. This absence of certain genes in autism patients may be responsible for the altered brain activity characteristic of this condition.
Some researchers theorize that autism is a result of the interaction between an individual’s genes and the environment. Specifically, a growing body of research is pointing to environmental toxins as a potential culprit. These health-robbing...
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