PBS report part 2 – what causes Autism? And why are people with Autism so very different to each other?

By Alive & Well


Following on from part 1 which we posted about last week, this 12-minute episode tries to understand the increasing prevalence of Autism in the U.S. (and of course as we know, so much of the American experience has translated elsewhere).

There is still a huge amount of debate around the causes of Autism. However it appears that much of the research is forming a consensus around the idea that the condition is likely to be caused by a combination of susceptibility factors – ie. genetic predisposition – PLUS environmental factors.

Environmental factors can be anything from infectious agents such as streptococcus (which it certainly was in the case of Nichola’s little boy), to nutritional deficiencies and intolerances, and chemicals in the household and the world around us.

Importantly, this multi-factorial theory applies even at the individual level. In other words, each individual with Autism is likely to report 2 to 3 susceptibility factors and 2 to 3 environmental factors.

As Robert MacNeil explains, it goes a long way towards explaining why each child with Autism is so very different, and experiences the condition in such different ways.

How do these theories ‘sit’ with you? What symptoms does your child present? How have they changed over time?

You can also read our posts about each episode here: