Possible Causes of Autism

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Possible Causes of Autism

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Autism Causes

To date, there is no accepted single cause of Autism although there are numerous theories.

It is becoming apparent that:

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is most probably caused by multiple factors interacting in complex ways (i.e. genes, environment and brain development).
  2. That ASD is not etiologically homogeneous. That is, there are probably numerous sub-types of ASD each with differing etiologies. For example, there is evidence of a sub-group of children diagnosed with ASD (20-30%) who show skill regression between 18 – 24 months after apparently normal initial development (Lainhart et al, 2002) while other children with ASD show consistently delayed development.

GeneticsGenetics and Autism

Genetics have been shown to play a role but do not explain the full picture or the recent increase in reported cases. Studies have shown that if one identical twin has the diagnosis, then there is a 30 – 40% chance that the other twin will develop ASD. This concordance is hardly ever seen with non-identical twins. (Bailey et al, 1995) When a wider definition of ASD is used, the probability rates jump to 90% for identical twins and 10% for non-identical (Bailey et al, 1995). The probability of receiving an ASD diagnosis when another sibling has already been diagnosed is estimated between 2 and 14%, a 10 to 20 fold increase over the general population incidence (Hertz-Picciotto et al, 2006). No single gene has been identified as responsible and most genetic researches believe that multiple genes are involved (International Molecular Genetic Study of Autism Consortium, 1998). Research into genetics suggests that at least 40% of ASD cases may have an environmental cause (Hertz-Picciotto et al, 2006).

Viruses & Vaccinations

viruses and vaccinations with AutismA few studies have begun to find some cases of ASD linked to maternal exposure to certain viruses (measles, mumps, rubella, herpes, syphilis, cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis) and chemicals (thalidomide and valproic acid). However, these account for a very small proportion of all cases (Hertz-Picciotto et al, 2006). There is also some evidence that the preservative thimerosol in childhood vaccinations may be linked to some cases – again evidence is mixed. Some large-scale studies have been set up to begin to understand the contribution of environmental factors to the etiology of ASD, for instance the CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and Environment) study at University California-Davis.

Environmental Risk Factors For Autism

A 2003 article in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders reported that the incidence of ASD diagnosis in the United States increased from 4-5 per 10,000 children in the 1980s to 30-60 per 10,000 in the 1990s, a ten-fold increase in as many years. environmental risk factors and AutismA portion of this increase is undoubtedly due to greater clinician awareness of the disorder and wider inclusion criteria, but this can not explain such a rapid and dramatic increase. More and more researchers are turning to environmental causes (e.g. heavy metals, PCBs, pesticides and PDBEs) that contribute to autism as a central hypothesis. There is also growing interest in the role of the immune system in ASD etiology, the suggestion that certain chemicals (widely present in our environment) may be responsible for observed inflammation in the brains of those with neurodevelopmental disorder

Brain Development

It is widely accepted that atypical brain development underlies the development of the observable symptoms of ASD (see Autism Symptoms & Characteristics). How genes and the environment interact to cause the brain to begin developing differently is still being debated. What is clear is that these differences in brain development can be traced to either before birth or very soon after birth even though the behavioral and social signs of Autism tend not be observable until after 18 months of life. The exact nature of the brain differences is not clear either. Brain development and Autism Studies have shown differential development in many brain areas including the frontal and temporal lobes, the cerebellum, and the sub-cortical amygdala and hippocampus. Scarcity of evidence, methodological challenges and conflicting findings have not yet allowed precise conclusions to be drawn about either the specific brain regions affected or the mechanism of development that lead to observed brain differences. Other studies point to the patterns of connectivity between and within brain areas as the issue (e.g. Courchesne and Pierce, 2005) rather than specific loci while other researchers focus on specific types of neurons (e.g. mirror neurons) or patterns of neuronal activation (e.g. Bernier et al, 2007).

Medical Treatment

Due to the lack of consensus about what causes Autism, there is not yet any widely accepted medical treatment for Autism (although growing evidence for some bio-medical approaches, see Autism Treatment Options). However, there are other ways to help children and adults with Autism that are effective and have seen great successes – see Autism Treatment Options.

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Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid

 

Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,

Jackline

 

Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar

 

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