These days, nearly everyone is familiar with autism. Movies like Rain Man, books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and celebrity spokespeople like Temple Grandin have all contributed to our understanding of the disorder. Unfortunately, what we don’t have yet is a cure, but there’s hope that might change.
Because people with autism have difficulties with communicating and interacting socially, it is classed as a developmental disorder. So far, no single cause for autism has been found. The causes are thought to be both environmental and genetic. The likelihood of the disorder increases if the mother has certain infections, such as rubella, during pregnancy. Drugs and alcohol add to the risk.
There have also been many controversial theories surrounding what causes autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For example, certain phenols, various foods, and some pesticides have all been implicated without hard evidence. More damagingly, it was claimed that certain vaccines can cause the disorder, and despite being proved completely false, some continue to believe this.