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Strange theories about the causes of Autism

Updated on September 23, 2011

Most of us have heard the most common theories of the cause of Autism

Theories ranging from thimerosol, fluoride, percholate and microbial infections to copy number variants on any of a handful of genes. Have you heard any of the wilder ones? Many years ago, it was said to be a result of emotionally unavailable (refrigerator) mothers, today we know that to be untrue. There really are some interseting ones out there! I will include both the realistic and absurd theories on the potential causes of ASD.

Please remember that I am neither endorsing nor attempting to disprove any of these theories, I just wanted to share what I have found with you!

Here are a few

In no particular order... some are legitimate scientific theories.

  1. Copy number variants on any of a number of genes.
  2. Fluoride, percholate, Bisphenol A, Trichloroethylene
  3. Microbial infections, both maternal and during infancy
  4. Gluten and Casein intolerance
  5. Thimerosol
  6. Combination of environmental factors and genetic pre-disposition
  7. Phase of Evolution
  8. Proximity to freeways: Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase (clusters) in the number of children diagnosed with autism directly related to their proximity to a freeway. Scientists have not yet speculated at whether the cause would be attributed to fumes and toxins or whether it would be related to socio-economic factors (like easier access to programs that help identify autism early in infants)

Three Reasons for "Refrigerator Mothers"

Did you know that sometimes mothers of kids with ASD can appear to be "cold"-especially when dealing with providers. Do you know why?

Well, many many years ago, it was assumed that this "cold" "unloving" attitude was the cause of ASD. That has been disproven. Many of the studies have demonstrated that this phenomenon is more likely to be a symptom of the impact ASD has on the family!

Often, it is a learned behavior. Some kids with ASD behave better for their Mothers when the mother acts like that, so it becomes a habit! If your child hits you when you are sweet to them, yet aims only to please when you are distant, it becomes easier to APPEAR distant (it really is more of an act). This technique allows mothers to protect their child who might otherwise be running in traffic etc. It does not work for everyone, and it is heartbreaking when it is necessary. This is not a method that you intend to try, it occurs gradually as a result of desperation and can not be a long term solution.

Sometimes, you may be seeing a hint in the genetics.... perhaps the mother is bordering on Aspergers. Studies have suggested that this is potentially a clue to the hereditary nature of the disorder.

Usually though, if you see this, it is because when we take a child to the provider it is all business. We must maintain focus at the appointments for the child's sake. We are there to problem solve or because there are serious concerns. There is no cure for ASD, so when you walk into those appointments it can be emotional, you know that any "solutions" to the issues are either temporary or will create new issues. Even if you solve one problem today, there will be a new one next week. Focus is so essential during these meetings and appointments that it is easier not to show any emotion at all. The providers are the "problem solvers", you do not often visit them to tell them that everything is happy, wonderful, butterfly fairytale land!


Here are some more

still in no particular order, again there may be legitimate ones in here!

  1. Hybridization of Human DNA with Dolphin DNA
  2. Being an Extraterrestrial
  3. Being a direct descendent of neanderthals
  4. sexual selection
  5. use of technology
  6. Extra DNA strands (not just genes)
  7. demonic possession
  8. standing near microwaves while pregnant
  9. Laziness
  10. Position during conception
  11. Lipstick and other make-up
  12. amalgam fillings
  13. Mold exposure
  14. Formula as an infant
  15. television
  16. Mother eating cheese while breastfeeding
  17. eating food cooked as opposed to raw
  18. difference in intestinal length
  19. differences in brain structure
  20. being so smart the brain short circuits
  21. being an angel

I don't want to start a war here, but.....

Tell us, of two of the leading theories, which do you believe is most likely?

Genetics or Environmental (including toxins OR social environment).

There is a third leading theory (but I can only put 2 in the duel module) SO.... If you believe that the third is more likely, pick either side and lead with.... Genetic predisposition which is then triggered by environmental factors (copy/paste!)

Genetic, Environmental or Genetic predisposition which is then triggered by environmental factors-see above

What wild theories have you heard? What theories do you believe may be correct?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      If we come to know about the causes of Autism, the prevention cannot be far away. Great information on the cause and sources of Autism.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Autism is such a serious issue today that it will be a very important break through when they do finally discover what causes it. Excellent article.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is not one of my areas of experience, study, or personal interest; so i have to trust that others who have the knowledge can and will find the reasons, and a cure for autism.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Lensrolled to my: Doing It Anyway / Bullies at Work, Squidoo people with a good heart - Part II, and Preventive Medicine is UNDERfunded, why? lenses. Very interesting work here, indeed.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      There is something to be said for 'cumulative effect' or lifelong exposure to certain toxins. I do think we would be wise to limit these whenever possible. Sure hope ASD are kept at the forefront of research and a cure can be found soon. Great lens, as always, sidther. Fondly, Rose

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      The 'immunizations causing autism' has been the one I have heard which I do not believe. I am glad, however, that thimerosol and amalgam fillings are not recommended or done as often (esp. in children) since no amount of mercury is really 'okay' - we would be wise to avoid mercury as much as possible.