Since Kanner’s first report on autism in 1943, many theories have been formulated to identify the cause of the disorder, and some have stirred a lot of controversy.
One such theory claimed that autism was caused by «refrigerator mothers» that did not provide enough love and attention to their children. This theory is completely false and was debunked in the late 60s. Parents of children living with autism are exactly the same as those of neurotypical children.
While we still don’t know the exact cause (or causes) of autism, research is primarily focusing on two areas: genetics and environmental factors, and more precisely, a combination of these two.
A lot of research has been done on the genetic component over the past 20 years, but what has emerged is that there would not be a single direct link between genetics and autism, but rather there are various genetic vulnerabilities that could put a child at risk to develop autism.
There has equally been a lot of research done during the past 20 years on environmental factors. These include certain viral infections, metabolic imbalances, heavy metals, pesticides, air pollution, as well as infections/illnesses, deficiencies, certain medications, immune reactions during pregnancy, to name but a few.
If the history of autism has taught us one thing, is that there are no easy answers. Every autistic child is unique, and their autism is the result of a combination of genetic vulnerabilities and environmental factors.