Autism Research

(Also Known As: Atism Research, Autistic Research, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Research, Autistic Spectrum Disorder Research)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

Autism Related Research


The growing rate of prevalence of autism has caused a controversy as to whether there is an Autism epidemic. A study 4 on this subject, published in 2006, has dispelled this notion. Researchers have explained that the increase in the prevalence of autism has been linked with the changes in the diagnostic tools used. The prevalence rates do not support the belief that there is an autism epidemic. What may have happened is that more accurate diagnosis has been made possible over the years. They also found that along with an increase of prevalence rates of an autism diagnosis, fewer children were diagnosed with mental retardation and other learning disabilities.


When the first cases for autism were discovered, some researchers have theorized that it may have been caused by certain parenting styles. However over they years, more research has dispelled this notion and has found no link between autism and the style of parenting. Recent research has focused more on both neurobiological and non-biological factors. Genetic predisposition is one possible explanation for autism, as shown through family and twin studies. These studies have found that siblings and twins of children with autism are more likely to have autism themselves. Some researchers have also looked into neurobiological factors such as disruption in the normal development and organization of the brain. While other studies using neuroimaging have suggested that the brains of people with autism have increases in the volume of those parts of the brain involved in the use of attention, higher-order cognitive planning and control of behavior. Some have also surmised that autism may have been caused by prenatal and birth complications or by possible imbalances in the neurotransmitters or chemical make up of the brain. Today autism is still very much a medical mystery which doctors, researchers, and scientists are continually studying in the hopes of unraveling its causes for possible treatment options.

A leading theory nowadays on autism is that people with autism have deficits in Theory of Mind, which is the ability to understand that other people have mental states and use this to understand, interact and communicate with others. 5


A study published in the January 2008 of Archives of General Psychiatry has found that autism cases still rose over the period of 1995-2007 despite the removal by most vaccine manufacturers of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines in 1999. For years, parents and advocate groups have been concerned that the mercury-based preservative may have been causing the increase in the number of autism cases. This recent finding suggests that there was no link between the mercury-based preservative in vaccines and autism. 6


Common Symptoms of Autism

Difference between Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Could You Have Autism?

Autism Topics

Related Conditions

Asperger's Syndrome – autism, deficient interaction and social skills, lacking of empathy, autistic, restricted pattern of behaviors
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder – delay in language and motor skills, autism, lack of social functions
Rett's Disorder – repetitive movements, cognitive impairment, autism, problem with social skills