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What is the Main Cause of Autism?

A Psychiatrist in Maryland Explores What Causes Autism in Children

Due to the recent controversy associated with Sia’s upcoming film “Music,” the subject of autism has made waves in the mainstream news. As a result, people who are not apart of the disabled community are re-evaluating any misconceptions and stereotypes they might hold about it. 

Right now, there are still dozens of misconceptions floating around about this developmental disability and its potential causes. In this article, we hope to clear up as many as we can. To start, we’ll be covering the possible causes behind autism. A psychiatrist in Maryland from the Psych Associates of Maryland will offer an in-depth look into the disorder. 

What is Autism?

A psychiatrist in Maryland offers a full overview of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

little boy with autism at the doctors' office
Symptoms of autism typically show up during the early days of infancy. Severity does vary from child to child. 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a medical condition that affects the development of the brain. Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and other developmental disorders fall under this spectrum. ASD can impact the way in which someone perceives others and socializes with them. At times, this can cause issues with their social lives. 

Do More Children Have Autism Today? 

Recently, it seems that the rate of autism in children has increased. There are several possible reasons for this phenomenon. One thing we need to consider is the improvement of diagnostic testing for autism. 

Experts are also getting better at identifying autism in under-reported populations. For instance, rates of ASD in white children have historically appeared higher than those among Black or Hispanic children. This didn’t make sense to health experts until they realized that residents with higher socioeconomic statuses were more likely to have access to the high-quality healthcare resources needed to diagnose their children. In a recent report by the CDC, the diagnostic gap between these different groups had significantly shrunk. 

Common Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Symptoms of autism can show up at different times among children. Some might show signs of autism during the early days of infancy while others don’t show symptoms until they are a couple of months old. By age 2, most autistic children will show some signs of their disorder. 

Some common signs and symptoms of autism in children include:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Preferring to be left alone
  • Dislikes physical contact
  • Not responding to their name
  • Lack of social responsiveness
  • Following repetitive motions
  • Not speaking by 16 months
  • Exhibits flat or inappropriate facial expressions

Diagnosing Autism

Early diagnosis in children is crucial, as starting treatments young can help them later on in life. However, diagnosing it can be challenging as there is no simple medical test that physicians can use. Instead, they must look at the child’s developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis. If a child missed important milestones like smiling at 6 months or babbling at 12, this could be indicative of autism. Your child’s pediatrician may have you schedule an appointment with a team of ASD specialists in order to make an official diagnosis. 

What Causes Autism?

The exact cause of autism is still unclear, but we do know that the MMR vaccine is not one

little boy with autism playing in a room
There is strong evidence that there is a genetic cause behind autism. 

As of now, researchers have not pinpointed a direct cause of autism. Throughout the years, a number of theories over the cause of autism have popped up. Some people believe that vaccines cause autism while others think that consuming gluten can worsen symptoms. 

While the two aforementioned theories have been proved unlikely, scientists have found a strong genetic link to the disorder. For instance, researchers studying twins found that if one twin had autism, there was a high chance that the other twin also had autism. Other factors, like being born prematurely or having an older father, can also increase one’s risk of developing autism. 

Will My Child Have a Normal Life if They Are Autistic?

A psychiatrist in Maryland explores the nuances and joys of raising an autistic child

sleeping baby
As a parent of an autistic child, you might be wondering what the future has in store for them. 

Many parents worry about whether their children will have a chance of living a “normal” life. Will their child be able to hold a job? Live on their own? Handle their finances? 

Early intervention and treatment can help improve your child’s social skills and behavior. You may have to try out different therapies and interventions in order to find one that best fits your child’s needs. Children who are mildly affected by ASD may improve to the point that they no longer meet the criteria for ASD when they grow older. But for children dealing with more severe forms of the disorder, they may need lifelong therapy to help them move through major life milestones. 


While there is no “cure” to autism, early intervention can help your child improve their behavior and language development as they grow older. Want to talk to a psychiatrist in Maryland further about raising a child with autism? The Psych Associates of Maryland can help address any questions or concerns you might have. Contact the team today to schedule an appointment.

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