What is Autism?

A Disease?  A Disorder?  A Difference?

Do you think of the movie Rain Man, when you hear the word Autism?  How about savant?  Or does the name Temple Grandin ring a bell?

Autism is a neurological difference.

In fact, Autism is so diverse that the word Spectrum is used in the official diagnosis.  Some children who have Autism are unable to speak.  Some speak very elegantly and maturely for their age.  Some are so profoundly saturated in their own minds that they battle to engage in the world, while others are exceptionally talented in fields of e.g. science.

Although those on the Spectrum share common core characteristics, no two children are the same.  Each one is affected, differently, by Autism.

This leads to the next question – what causes Autism?

According to many professionals in the field of Neuroscience, gene mutations appear to be the root cause of Autism.

The theory is as follows:

* These mutated genes affect the circuitry of the brain.
* This in turn, affects how parts of the brain communicate with each other.
* The end result = non-typical behaviour.

Recent studies are now pointing towards the Cerebellum as playing a huge role in this, as over 50% of the brain’s neurons are located here.  The belief is that if there is an interruption occurring in the Cerebellum, communication with the rest of the brain is fragmented.

What causes these mutations to occur?

In some cases, it’s the luck of the genetic lotto (e.g. Fragile X Syndrome).

In the majority of cases - the jury is still out.