What Causes Autism?

While I’m glad that people are starting to look past vaccines as the cause of autism, this article might as well say “we have no idea.” First of all, you can blame just about anything on genetics, (not that I don’t think that may play a role in autism, but a generic “genetics” label is about as helpful as informing the world that “rain is wet”), so until they can pinpoint what they mean by “genetics” a little more specifically, I don’t find that to be particularly helpful or revelatory.

And then, to contrast genetics as a cause, there are the ever-present “environmental factors”–pesticides, drugs, etc. Again, if it can’t be pinpointed better than that, this is not really new information. Of course environmental factors can play a part in pretty much any disorder, but which ones? Why? And is there any way to reverse it? These are the questions that should be being asked (and answered!).

I, for one, would respect these researchers a whole lot more if they could just say, “We have no idea, but we’ll try to figure it out,” and then get to work, figuring it out. Broad generalizations and too many varied culprits aren’t helping anyone, and can really hurt the parents of autistic children more than they help.

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