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Autism: Main Causes and Therapies

In the intricate realm of human development, autism spectrum disorder presents itself as a multifaceted challenge. The spectrum is so wide that it encapsulates individuals who may occupy vastly different points and exhibit a diverse range of developmental difficulties, but still fall under the same umbrella of autism.
In the article below, you will be able to read about the main causes of autism spectrum disorder and gain insights into several key therapeutic approaches used in addressing this complex condition.

What Causes Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition with no single known cause. Instead, researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to its development.

Some key factors that have been studied in relation to autism include:

  • Genetic factors – Genetics play a significant role in the development of autism. The condition tends to run in families, and studies have identified numerous genes that may be associated with an increased risk of ASD. However, no single gene has been identified as the sole cause.
  • Prenatal factors – Certain prenatal factors have been linked to an increased risk of autism, including maternal exposure to certain medications, infections during pregnancy, and complications during birth.
  • Environmental factors – While not fully understood, some environmental factors may contribute to autism risk. These can include exposure to certain chemicals, toxins, or pollutants during pregnancy.
  • Neurodevelopmental factors – Abnormalities in brain development are a key characteristic of autism. They could be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors affecting brain structure and function.
  • Parental age – Some studies have suggested that both advanced maternal and paternal age may be associated with a higher risk of having a child with autism.
  • Immune system dysregulation – There is ongoing research into the role of immune system dysfunction in autism, as some studies have found differences in immune system markers in individuals with ASD.

It's important to note that ongoing research is constantly shedding new light on the causes and potential risk factors of autism. Therefore, the understanding of this complex condition continues to evolve, and so do the therapeutic approaches created to support people with ASD.

How Is Autism Treated?

As a spectrum disorder, autism varies widely in its presentation and severity among individuals, so treating it involves a multidisciplinary approach tailored to specific needs. Even though there is no single known cure, there are multiple therapeutic approaches that ASD specialists can take to support neurodivergent people and help them address their unique challenges.

Early Intervention

Early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can appear in children as young as 18 months old. Recognizing these signs and initiating early intervention is crucial. By diagnosing and starting therapy as early as possible, children with ASD can start developing communication and social skills early, and set a strong foundation for their future development.

Behavioral Interventions

Behavioral therapies, such as ABA therapy, are widely used to help individuals with autism acquire and improve various skills. ABA involves breaking down tasks into smaller steps and providing positive reinforcement for desired behaviors. It is an approach that focuses on teaching new behaviors while reducing the problematic ones. The therapy can be done at home, or in other available venues. ABA therapy in Fort Lauderdale offers both options to their clients. Depending on where you live, you’ll have more or less access to ABA therapists and available options.

Speech and Language Therapy

Since many neurodivergent individuals experience challenges in communication, speech and language therapy is a key intervention in supporting people with ASD. It is a therapy that focuses on improving verbal and non-verbal communication skills. In it, therapists work with individuals to enhance their ability to express their needs and interact with others effectively.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is another important component of autism treatment because it addresses the fundamental aspects of an individual's life. Occupational therapists work with people with ASD to improve their fine motor skills, sensory processing, and daily living skills. This type of therapy can enhance their ability to perform everyday tasks and participate in various activities.

Social Skills Training

Social skills training programs are designed to help individuals with ASD develop essential social and interpersonal skills. Such abilities may include understanding social cues, making eye contact, engaging in reciprocal conversations, and building friendships. These skills can help individuals with autism to navigate the social world with confidence and independence.

Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory processing difficulties are also very common among people on the spectrum. Sensory integration therapy helps individuals better understand and manage sensory information, making them more comfortable in different environments. This therapy can be particularly beneficial for those with sensory sensitivities.

Educational Support

Many children with autism benefit from specialized educational programs tailored to their needs. These programs often involve individualized education plans (IEPs) and may be provided in mainstream or special education settings. Education plays a crucial role in addressing academic and social challenges for children with ASD.


In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications to manage specific symptoms associated with autism. The role of medicine in ASD treatment is to alleviate some harmful symptoms and behaviors such as anxiety, aggression, or hyperactivity. Medications are typically used in conjunction with behavioral and therapeutic interventions.

Parent and Family Training

Beyond the therapeutic approaches performed by professionals, families also play a vital role in supporting individuals with autism. Parent training programs can teach families effective strategies for managing behaviors and promoting communication and social skills at home. These programs empower families to provide ongoing support.

Alternative Therapies

Some families explore alternative therapies such as music therapy, art therapy, or animal-assisted therapy for treating ASD. While not fully backed up by scientific research, anecdotal evidence suggests these therapies can provide some unique benefits. Most experts recommend that alternative therapies be utilized solely as complementary approaches to traditional interventions.

The Bottom Line

In summary, autism is a complex condition influenced by genetic and environmental factors. While its precise cause remains elusive, a multitude of therapeutic interventions exists to support individuals with ASD, ranging from behavioral and speech therapies to educational support and medications for symptom management.

With an individualized approach to treatment and a focus on early intervention, we can empower neurodivergent individuals to navigate their unique challenges and thrive within a diverse and inclusive society, promoting their valuable contributions to our communities.