Some people are extremely adamant about what they believe are the causes of autism. The truth is that there's no single answer. The causes of autism are a cause of controversy. The cause of autism is unknown and therefore there is no cure. However, some children have been helped with therapies and intervention to the point that symptoms are no longer present. So, for argument's sake, you might say those children are cured. My child is not one of them.
There are a few different theories about the causes of autism. But science has yet to stand behind any of them. It seems likely that perhaps some combination of these could be the cause. The most popular theories are genetics, mercury, food allergies, and an environmental factor that is yet unknown. Let's discuss each in order.
I don't think science stands behind any single cause more than it stands behind genetics. It seems there may be a genetic predisposition to autism. What this means is that autism may be a gene, or several genes, that are passed down somehow from one related person to another (like maybe father to son) and becomes active in the autistic child. My wife holds to this theory because Braden, our son, isn't the only person on her side of the family to have a developmental disorder. Braden has a cousin who is mentally challenged and shows many symptoms common to autism. That fact alone makes her think that somehow there's a genetic link.
Not many scientists or parents will dispute that genetics is a likely piece of the puzzle. Of course, it's hard to put a puzzle together when you don't have all the pieces.
You may be asking yourself, "How could Mercury have anything to do with autism?" Yet, this is a theory that many parents hold to and even feel passionate about. This is the most controversial theory regarding the cause of autism. Are you familiar with Jenny McCarthy? She's a parent who stands firm in the belief that the mercury in our vaccines is one of the major causes of autism, if not the single cause. When parents see their child developing normally until they get their routine immunizations, and then their child backslides into autism... they put one-and-one together. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder hitting your little one out of the blue is devastating. It didn't take parents long to realize there were other parents who saw this same phenomenon with their children. And they began pointing to childhood vaccines. Mercury is poisonous, yet our goverment allows it to be injected into our children.
Many autistic children have food allergies - but not your typical allergies. They don't turn red and swell up after eating fish products. Rather, somehow there's a relationship here where our processed foods like nuts or milk cause an internal reaction that alters the child. Sometimes cutting out all foods that have wheat and dairy products in them helps tremendously. And then sometimes it doesn't.
The special diet where wheat and dairy products are strictly excluded is called the Gluten Free, Casein Free diet or GFCF. I've noticed this theory is most popular among parents whose children have gastrointestinal problems (stomach issues). And the GFCF diet seems most effective with those children.
Another trigger may be environmental factors. What does this mean? Nobody has been real specific on this topic other than to say that the cause of autism may be linked somehow to the environment. Chemicals in our environment floating around in the air? Pollutants that trigger autism? Something in the water? This is a tough one to explain.