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More evidence shows autism raises risk for later siblings
August 15th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

More evidence shows autism raises risk for later siblings

It's already known that children with older siblings who have autism spectrum disorder or ASD, have a higher risk of developing the condition themselves,  and a new study in Pediatrics finds that risk is even higher than previously expected.

"We expected the rates to be significant, but not as high as we found," said Dr. Sally Ozonoff, lead author and vice chair for Research at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute. “We pretty much know genetics is a factor somewhere in the autism puzzle, but there may be other factors that work with the genetic makeup to cause the condition. We just don't know.

"The message we'd like to see come from the study is primary care physicians need to look at infants more closely when they are born to a family with children with ASD."

In the study, the largest of its kind, according to Ozonoff, researchers monitored 664 infants, registered with the Baby Siblings Research Consortium who either had an older biological brother or sister with ASD. They followed the little ones from infancy to 36 months. Previous studies estimated that the ASD recurrence risk in younger siblings was between 3% and 10%. But this study found that the overall risk was much higher, at 18.7% and even higher in families with more than one affected sibling – about 32.2%.

"This does not mean that every family who has a child with ASD will have a second child with ASD. It's just their risks are higher," noted Ozonoff. "And keep in mind we found that 80 percent of children with older siblings who had ASD never developed any signs of autism. It's just an indicator that parents and physicians need to be aware of."

Male babies experienced nearly three times the risk over female infants, 26% versus 9%. Age of parent, gender of the older sibling or birth orders were not predictors of the condition, meaning if the first child in the family does not have ASD, and the second child does, the risk percentages are still the same for the next child.

"I think you'll find that parents with children who have ASD will not be shocked by these finding," said Dr. Alycia Halladay, director of research for environmental sciences for Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization that heads up the Baby Siblings Research Consortium. "But the data does support the importance of monitoring infants from birth who have older brothers or sisters with ASD. Because recognizing autism at an early age is key to getting a child successful treatment"

Authors of the study suggest their findings could also impact future genetic screening and family planning decisions when it comes to parents of children with ASD. The knowledge of the risk could also lead to earlier observation and intervention for babies born into these particular families.

"This study just backs up what other data has been saying, even more so, " said Ozonoff. "But we'd like primary care professionals to be more aware of the risks for newborns with ASD siblings, so they can ask the pertinent questions to parents about the new sibling, such as 'Is he or she looking at you, learning to point, smiling?' All of these are important aspects of deciding whether a young child may have ASD."


soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. sparker

    My son apparently has high functioning autism; I still question if it was necessary to diagnose him with it. He has higher reading comprehension than other kids his age (go figure I taught him to read...), and likes to be by himself sometimes; other times he plays around just like everybody else. I am pretty sure if they had done all of this testing when I was in school they would have diagnosed me with high functioning autism as well. I don't know what to make of it really; I don't feel that it will impair him in life – it never stopped me. Still trying to figure out the meaning and significance of it.

    August 15, 2011 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rh

      IMHO, the only reason they push the dx for kids who are "high-fuctioning" (speak and self-care but have certain other symptoms) is to get help at school.

      I sometimes regret that my son got an autism diagnosis, and we've toyed with refusing school services for him because they've been a double-edged sword for him.

      August 15, 2011 at 07:30 | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      I agree with rh about the reason why they make the diagnosis. If you don't want to do anything with it – don't - it's your call. My nephew is moderate to severe (3 1/2 yrs old). He is non-verbal, but understands what you tell him and is learning sign language. His diagnosis was very important to get him help early on. He was diagnosed just as my sister found out she was pregnant with his younger brother. The younger boy seems fine, loves to play, tries to talk (he's 1 year old) and is very interactive; we have been blessed. The older boy has done MUCH better this summer after a couple of camps he went to. Something isn't right when just a couple of weeks can bring such an improvement when he sees the others everyday. What is it he was getting at camp that he doesn't get from his regular providers???

      August 15, 2011 at 08:02 | Report abuse |
    • lovethyself

      NEVER regret getting your children diagnosis. I myself am 35 yrs old and i wish to god i had known that i had autism. growing up i was so confused about the world around me with no help, no programs, no explaination, nothing. I did see the hbo movie Temple Grandin and it had me nearly to tears as i finally thought, someone understands me ! it has not been easy growing up with Autism, but that is mostly because i had never heard of it. With the internet, parents and children finally have places to get answers. GET YOUR CHILDREN DIAGNOSED. they need to be able to understand why the world around them is different. please do not ignore the signs hoping it will go away. all you are doing is making life harder on your children.

      August 15, 2011 at 08:45 | Report abuse |
    • charley764

      I would definitely suggest an evaluation by a developmental pediatrician for your son. If his "autism" is not creating difficulties socially or academically, it's possible he just has "autistic traits" and is not, in fact, autistic. HFA/Asperger Syndrome has it's own "spectrum." Some individuals do really well and are maybe just odd or quirky. Others, like my son, are profoundly affected by HFA/AS.

      You don't say how old your son is, but the issues surrounding HFA/Asperger Syndrome often increase in intensity and difficulty once middle school hits. These kids tend to be less mature then their peers, and once they hit fifth or sixth grade, they stand out and have serious social and academic problems. Even if your son, like mine, is very "smart," he may run into difficulty understanding instructions, taking enough (not too much, not too little) time on assignments and tests, and organizing his day to day life (executive function). I have several ASD friends–adults who never received any services as children–who are brilliant but unemployed or underemployed (janitors, security guards–not bad jobs by any means, but unusual for an adult with a Master's Degree). My son cannot pass for "normal"–he doesn't make eye contact, doesn't make friends, lectures on his favorite topics (rather than having a back-and-forth conversation), and has difficulty concentrating on anything outside of his specific interests. He's an amazing, brilliant kid, but he needs lots of extra help living in the world.

      As for "aging out of the diagnosis" as one commenter mentioned, that's not a bad thing. If your child matures to the point where he is no longer seriously affected by autism, you can remove the school classification and all supports. Keep in mind, though, that it's often the school supports that are creating the success. Often parents think, "He's doing fine! He no longer needs any support in school." They remove the supports and everything crashes. So rather than think, "My kid probably never even had autism. See? He's fine!" Think, "Wow, the work we did and the work the school did really helped my son catch up with his peers." Remember, autism is a developmental disability, not a stasis. These kids all change and grow and mature. Some do really well.

      August 15, 2011 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
    • Spydyee

      As an adult who was diagnosed at age 40 with Asperger's syndrome it is very important. I had a very hard time in school as did my adult children when they went through school. My youngest 3 kids are skill in school and they are having a much easier time that the others did because of their diagnosis. If you are in the USA, your child should get an IEP and this will allow the school to make allowances for any differences in learning style he may have. I have 7 living children and 2 deceased children and all of the living ones except one has been diagnosed with either Asperger's Syndrome , Asperger's Syndrome w/ ADHD, or Classic Kanner's Autism. All of the diagnosed kids have Sensory Processing Disorder the most common co-morbidity in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The one undiagnosed living child has never been tested and acknowledges that she is most likely on the spectrum but is happily married and a stay at home mom so unless her child gets diagnosed she is not going to bother with it. I have three grand children that are diagnosed and two exhibiting symptoms that are not yet diagnosed. It is genetic. The fathers of my older children that are all Aspies are all NT but the father of my two Kanner Cuties, my current husband and the man I have been married to the longest, is a fellow Aspie.

      I am glad that I was diagnosed because it gave me a sense of self worth that the world had stripped from me by expecting me to be something I am not capable of being. By understanding that I am the way I am not by choice but because my brain is wired differently means that the world is what needed to change and learn more acceptance. I cannot change my brain wiring any more than an African American can change their skin color. That is the importance of the diagnosis.

      Please do not fall into the trap of the perceptions put forth by the physically disabled world of disability language either. It is just as discriminatory as all the rest of the world. Most physical disabilities do not define a person and they are very right to seek recognition of that fact. However, something as pervasive as Autism does define the person because it affects the brain and the brain is the processing center that determines how we take in sensory input and what responses we spit back out to it. That is in essence how we define ourselves so Autism does define us. It defines every thing we see, feel , hear, taste, spell, and think as well as the actions we take in response to those things. Go here and read this and then go help your child to be the best Autistic person he can be.
      http://www.cafemom.com/journals/read/436505/Why_I_dislike_quot_person_first_quot_language_by_Jim_Sinclair

      Oh one last thing. Autism Spectrum Disorder does not equate to mental retardation. I have a child that does not speak with a genius level IQ on a non-verbal IQ test and a below average IQ on a verbal based IQ test. Language is the only barrier to him reaching his full potential in society. It is rather like the Deaf community and their outrage at the hearing community because there is so much emphasis on verbal communication that they exclude the Deaf and children like mine that are "mind-deaf "

      August 15, 2011 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
    • tjo

      Diagnosis can be helpful to you and to your child when/if you encounter any challenges. Like with transitions (to one school to another, from one job to another etc). Then you'd know that is something people with Asperger's or HFA commonly have difficulty with and you can see what others have done to make those things easier. Think of the diagnosis as a tool for helping your child to acheive all that he/she wants and not as a limiter that defines them.

      August 15, 2011 at 09:24 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      I found that in my life, I ended up being clinically depressed from age 12 to 14, and then at that point decided I didn't care what anyone else thought of me. Bullying went away, and I did much better in school. I think it is more important to my children to know that there is mental illness in the family (my depression was not noticed or treated by the way), and know that they can have certain thoughts that can be addressed.

      The autism is an "out" in a way for my son, and immaturity runs in our family anyway (I have not grown up yet and I am in my 40s). My son does not make the age cutoff because he went to a daycare kindergarten, and I see a lot of his classmates are immature yet all older than him.

      I think EVERY school should have mandated social skills groups for ALL kids, and it would help everyone deal with issues of working together and being sympathetic. For some kids, they would never have thought of how other people feel, for others, they just don't know how to be polite and concerned about others.

      Unwritten Rules of Friendship is a good book, my children were lucky enough to have social skills classes run by the author.

      August 15, 2011 at 09:55 | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      My son was not born with Autism, he got it at the age of 3. If it was Genetics he would have been born with it.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      Walter – Certain genetic disorders and conditions develop and begin to show with age. So by your logic, male pattern baldness is not genetic since it does not show until later in life. Also, I was born with and had blond hair until I was about 10-12, and my hair began to darken to a light brown. I guess hair color isn't genetic either.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:46 | Report abuse |
    • digdig

      FRMRMA:
      You comparison is flawed... Hopefully you do not work for drug companies...

      August 15, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
    • K. Ingraham

      It really matters as far as treatment & intervention, which is critical. It made a huge difference in my son's life. Check out Autism Speaks for info/help & Autism Society of America

      August 15, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      My comparison is definitely not flawed. It is valid. Walter makes an unsubstantiated claim that since his child didn't exhibit traits of autism until he was three, then it can NOT be genetic. Using his logic, one can claim that if you don't exhibit baldness until your 40's, then it is not genetic. But, it is obvious that you know my analogy is not flawed, since you offered no reasons as to why it is flawed!

      August 15, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • Marcus Morris

      Please don't trivialize a diagnosis of high functioning autism. You have no idea at all how frustrating it is to want to be normal and fit in while you are constantly seen as being slightly off. As you get older the symptoms persist and you end up with self esteem issues as well as having a tough time with long term inter personal relationship. Denial doesn't help you, and it doesn't help your kids. I am high functioning autistic. I am 32 years old and while I have a good life with my wife and two sons in our own home... I still have trouble working, I still have trouble fitting in. In fact I am starting a non profit that will help others with autism and aspergers syndrome called Guardian Spirit because I want the condition taken seriously and I have found a way to help. Guardian Spirit does virtual job training and virtual careers within second life which is a virtual game world. These experiences will hopefully lead to real world employment for the people we try to help. If you don't take the condition seriously you are causing harm to your child, not helping them. If you are interested in the program I am setting up please contact me at dj.ayzriel@gmail.com. There has been a CNN iReport about us, please read it if you are interested. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-646513

      August 15, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • J. Christensen

      I was a middle school teacher for 30 years and had several students on the spectrum over the course of my career. I want to encourage parents of children with ASD to enlist all the help they can get with the school system, rather than not – because of concerns about "labels". Not "labeling" your child just means the child isn't able to get appropriate services. It doesn't mean that nobody will know. Your child won't be the first or last child with ASD to go to school. Chances are that the teachers may know and have more experience with children with ASD than you have. You have deep understanding of one child. We have more surface understanding of more children. You live in a place on the spectrum. We live everywhere on the spectrum. We might be the FIRST people you should talk to because once your child is in school, we see them more hours a day than you do and have lots of students to compare them to. We are really well equipped to tell you how your child is functioning in the world outside of your home.

      It's not always easy to figure out that one of your students is on the spectrum. By being up front with us and telling us that you either suspect or know that your child is on the spectrum, you eliminate all the trial and error we might use to give your son or daughter the support they will need. We'll figure out sooner or later that your child has ASD, no matter if you tell us or not. But we might have done a lot of things that were not just ineffective, but that actually made life a lot more difficult for your child. If you refuse to talk to us about it, or refuse to have special services, you're not changing the diagnosis. You can always refuse services if they don't work for your child. But if you refuse services or refuse to share the diagnosis, you are limiting possibilities without trying them.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • charley764

      @ Walter

      frmrma is correct–just because you did not notice symptoms of autism in infancy does not mean genetics are not at the root of this disorder. Everybody knows, for example, that schizophrenia shows up in previously "normal" individuals when they are in their late teens or early 20s. Nobody thinks you just "catch" schizophrenia from something. It's genetic for the most part and certain situations can exacerbate it. But it shows up when it shows up, which is almost always young adulthood.

      There are many "autisms," and they may or may not have the same cause. If you want to know where autism comes from, the most important thing is more research. No matter what Jenny McCarthy says, she does not know what causes autism. Nobody knows for sure.

      August 15, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
  2. Anchorite

    While we still don't have a full picture of the cause, this study seems to show a genetic link. If it were environmental, neighbors of autistic kids would be at risk as much as siblings.

    August 15, 2011 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JKY

      Genes load the gun. Environment pulls the trigger.

      August 15, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse |
    • mommag

      I actually agree with anchorite. I live in Alaska. There's almost no way to get more wholesome and home-grown than that...

      August 15, 2011 at 02:24 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Environment also includes home environment, namely nurture.

      My one son with autism had a different caregiver than my other two children, and this person waiting on him hand and foot IMHO stunted his development. I did not find out about this until after six months, and had difficulty stopping it. The other two had daycare and did fine.

      August 15, 2011 at 07:31 | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      I read recently that a high percentage of moms with children diagnosed with ASD were taking antidepressants during pregnancy. I found this interesting but am sure more studies will need to be done.

      August 15, 2011 at 08:26 | Report abuse |
    • Spydyee

      It is fully genetic. I have kids with my three ex husbands all of whom are as Neurologically Typical (NT) as you can get. I am an Aspie. My current husband is an Aspie. All my kids with my NT husbands are Aspies. MY kids with my Aspie husband are Kanner Cuties (severe and profoundly autistic and predominately non-verbal). I have 7living kids 6 of which are actually diagnosed and 1 is self-diagnosed. I have three grandkids diagnosed on the spectrum and two showing signs but not yet diagnosed. Yep folks its genetic and most of these kids have at least one parent that would test as being an Aspie or 2 parents that fall into the Broad Autism Phenotype (BApY) group. Diagnosing Aspergers was not possible before 1993/4 when it was added to the DSM-IV and the DSM-III was the first diagnostic manual that had Autism as a separate category from Schizophrenia so there are many people that are diagnosed with mild schizophrenia, who never had hallucinations but exhibited the symptoms we now associate with Autism that got a schizophrenia diagnosis. We are the "hidden hoard" that the anti-vaxxers that blame vaccines say does not exist. Well I hate to disappoint them but I have in my family alone 8 actually diagnosed people who were born before 1993/4 and were diagnosed in adulthood with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

      August 15, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
    • Lou

      Yes, genetics play a big role but what makes it screw up? It may be simple. It could have to do with lack of vitamin D that is much more widespread than anyone realizes. Vitamin D has a very profound epigenetic effect on your genes (over 2000 genes identified so far) covering from head to toes. Vitamin D is extremely crucial for proper brain development starting in the womb. It is also extremely crucial for proper immune system function which would have protected kids from vaccines seeing that vaccines are designed to cause a response from immune system only to see that immune system over reacted causing damages. Keep it in mind, i am not saying vaccines causes autism but I'm saying that it may make symptoms of autism much worse. Studies are showing that autistic kids have severe vitamin D deficiency AND mothers too. There are reports that high dose vitamin D treatment (no difference than treating vitamin D deficiency) is showing a lot of promise. Not a cure but effective cheap treatment. Google Dr. Cannell's vitamin D theory and autism. You will find some studies on pubmed over vitamin D and autism if you want to delve into it.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
  3. nutmegthetuba

    One thing I've heard is that children of older women have higher risk of autism. So if autism is genetic, and the women having a second or third child aren't getting any younger, then don't the results of the study make sense?

    August 15, 2011 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kath

      Older (more mature) cells (eggs) can have the tendency to mutate or change and a little quirk develops in the chromosomes. Down Syndrome is another genetic condition that increases with the age of a woman....so its not far-fetched.

      August 15, 2011 at 06:57 | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      According to the study in the article – the largest of its kind so far – quote – Age of parent, gender of the older sibling or birth orders were not predictors of the condition, meaning if the first child in the family does not have ASD, and the second child does, the risk percentages are still the same for the next child. – end quote

      August 15, 2011 at 08:05 | Report abuse |
    • sdp126

      I certainly wasn't an "older mom". I was 23 and 29 when I had my HFA sons.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • J. Christensen

      All siblings have differences. A mother might have a child with blue eyes followed by a child with brown eyes. We wouldn't consider that to be proof that eye color isn't inherited. We haven't begun to scratch the surface of understanding DNA or how genes are "expressed". The more we know the less we think we know.

      August 15, 2011 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
  4. mommag

    Both of my sons have high functioning autism as well, and I'm totally not surprised with this finding. Most parents I know with one autistic child have another as well. Still feel super blessed to have both of my kids exactly as they are; I've learned and grown so much as a person because they constantly show me new ways of looking at the world that aren't exactly "normal". Sparker, why don't you get your son retested? The docs may find that he has a less severe form, or Aspergers, or nothing at all. I really wish our national education system could keep up with the 1 in 10 autistic kids, though. It's pretty much a joke, especially if you aren't in an urban area.

    August 15, 2011 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sparker

      I am in the process of getting an independent evaluation outside of the school; to see if my son actually has 'high functioning autism' or 'aspergers' or what. I feel that this 'no child left behind' program has over evaluated children to the point that it detracts from their actual education. I know several other parents that feel the same way. If I had noticed abnormalities in my son's behavior I would have had him tested before starting school – but then, if I'm also somehow autistic I guess I wouldn't have noticed, because he would have seemed normal to me. I finished school with honors and have always held down a job – we all have certain interests; and though I feel it important to offer help and guidance to those in need I also feel it is unnecessary to over diagnose kids with ADHD, Autism, PDD-NOS and so on.

      August 15, 2011 at 04:43 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      And some kids who are originally diagnosed with autism are never re-tested.

      My oldest was dx'd with ADD hyperimpulsivity, and poof he no longer has it 7 years later. My middle son had an autism diagnosis before age 2, and 7 years later not one person would consider him autistic unless they looked at his records. We are told to keep the autism diagnosis so he can get services.

      No one is looking at kids who "age out" of the diagnoses, which is heartbreaking considering my son has had negative effects from his school aides and certain therapies.

      August 15, 2011 at 07:28 | Report abuse |
  5. mommag

    Umm....Google?

    August 15, 2011 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tom

    I've never once visited a shrink, even though life has dealt me my fair share of personal problems. The last thing I really need at this point is someone to give me a new category to place myself into, in order to gain sympathy from others, employers, or educational advancement. There is no solution to autism. AFAIK, once you have it, that's it. You got it. It's not going to go away. And putting a new label on your kids doesn't solve anything. You can pump all the slick legal drugs you want, and place them in the special schools you wish, but the reality is, at some point they are going to have to make it on their own completely independent from anyone else, pharmaceuticals, and your parental training wheels, or you will need to pretty much work for the rest of your lives keeping just basically keeping them going. It would be better to quit the blame game, and just get back to trying to do the best we can, and stop making personal excuses for why life sucks in general for some people more than others sometimes. Human are very adaptable creatures, but throwing more taxonomy at specific conditions that didn't have names for them 20-30 years ago, really doesn't seem to help anyone, except the people who come up with books about the latest psychological acronym or snake oil cure.

    August 15, 2011 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sparky

      You're kidding, right?

      August 15, 2011 at 03:19 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      HEY GUESS what my cousin has the true and real form of autism and he can NEVER EVER live an independent life because he is GONE! OK When I say gone, he has no capabilities of making his own decisions let alone speak words. He has no understanding, no perception, so yes, he is going to have to have someone take care of him for the rest of his life.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
  7. Denver

    wow Tom that is pretty ignorant, there are advances in science, tech, and health everyday, and those advances are what is fueling the progression we are making as humans. Children with Autism can make it in life, but it is very important to diagnose the problem, and get them the early education they need to help them, ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away.

    August 15, 2011 at 03:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric

      While serious autism is something that there's an enormous benefit to diagnosing early, I do agree with the point that there's very little point to diagnosing very minor/high functioning autism/aspergers other than creating a new label for smart, shy kids, since a) there's no real way to "treat" those kids, and b) if you have a kid that's perfectly healthy but slightly not "normal", treating them like they need serious treatment seems likely to create more issues than it solves.

      Also, I have a small quibble with the article – while there clearly are genetic links to autism, the fact that it runs in families is also entirely consistent with it being caused by something environmental, since the kids are likely to be growing up (and more critically, undergoing early development) in very similar environments, under exposure to very similar toxins... which also may explain why the number is so much higher here, since it's reporting a combination of both factors.

      August 15, 2011 at 05:35 | Report abuse |
  8. Katja

    I really don't understand parents who continue to reproduce knowing that a child of theirs is autistic. (Or has some other serious genetic mental or physical disability.) Unfair to bring any more afflicted children into the world. Unfair to to child. Unfair to the siblings who will probably be stuck caring for their afflicted sibling after the parents die. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    August 15, 2011 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sparker

      I don't think you understand Autism. It isn't really an 'affliction' or a 'problem', at least for many Aspergers and high autism spectrum people. You treat it as if it's some hideous abnormality that makes it so the child will never stand a chance at functioning in the world – your views are cruel and misinformed.

      August 15, 2011 at 04:35 | Report abuse |
    • Kath

      There is a tween board around here somewhere. Please take your maturity level over there.

      August 15, 2011 at 06:58 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Sounds like hate for the disabled to me. Let's ban anyone with any diseases in their family from having kids.

      It's called eugenics and the Nazis thought it was a good idea too.

      August 15, 2011 at 07:16 | Report abuse |
    • Lise

      sick sick sick. as a sibling of an autistic child, I couldn't disagree more with your comment.

      August 15, 2011 at 08:29 | Report abuse |
    • lovethyself

      actually us Aspies are usually more high functioning than you normal people. i'm the only person i work with that isn't lazy. why are all the normal people i meet lazy? most of us don't smoke either, because we know it isn't a very logical thing to do. bow to your new Aspie Overlords. bwahahaha. i'm kidding. actually i'm not. we'll be running the world in a few generations. you normal people just aren't efficient.

      August 15, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
    • EKHK

      We struggled with the decision to have another child after my son was diagnosed at the age of 2. I'm so thankful we were not subjected to comments like yours when making our decision because the result was a beautiful little girl (2 1/2 years his junior) who has grown to be a kind, compassionate, and patient companion for him. We are constantly getting compliments from other parents, teachers, etc., about her level of compassion for other kids at school who may just need a kind word of encouragement, a friendly smile, or a little help sometimes. While I would love to take 100% credit for her turning out this way, I have to admit that it most likely comes from the experience of having a sibling with special needs who she loves unconditionally. While most 7 year old little girls will say they want to be a princess, ballerina, or actress when they grow up, my daughter has already said she wants to be a speech therapist to help kids like her brother. If bringing this sweet, caring human being into the world is, as you say, "wrong, wrong, wrong" then shame on me

      August 15, 2011 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
    • Vince

      Katja – You are a fool. As a parent of a child with Aspergers, I could not disagree more with your statements. My child is incredibly intelligent, kind and caring person who struggles on a daily basis to be accepted as "normal" by uneducated, prejudiced ignoramusus such as yourself. If more people were like him, then this world would be a much better place to live in. In the future, please educate yourself before you make idiotic, unfounded comments.

      August 15, 2011 at 09:07 | Report abuse |
    • Amy104

      I am the first born child in my family. I have one brother, who is about 18 months younger than I am, and he has Autism. At times, it is a struggle. I remember as a child that he would not talk and we would go to therapy sessions very often. I know that once I have started a career, my parents will change their wills to say that I will be his guardian.

      In no way do I regret having a sibling with Autism. Without the life experiences he has provided me, I would not be as compassionate a person. Whenever I see someone who has a 'disability', as some may put it, I want to talk with them, learn about them. Without growing up with my brother, I would not have an interest in psychology and medicine. I want to study Autism once I finish my schooling.

      If I find out that someone was making fun of my brother, I am not embarrassed by it, as you seem to assume I would be. I become very protective.

      Without my brother, I would probably be a lot more like you. He helps me to see the world in a different light. I appreciate people for their differences.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      Katja,

      Please get sterilized. The world does not need anymore people with your mental disability to reproduce.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
    • sdp126

      Well, if you want to go down that road about who should procreate and how many kids should they be allowed to have, I'd have to say I'm more concerned about people like you creating more judgmental and cruel people than having more Autistic children in the world. My sons would never dream of saying what you did. Wrong wrong wrong.

      You never met a truer, more real person than a person with Autism. There is no pretense or falsehood in them. What they love, they love wholly.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • Maurine meleck

      Because autism, for the most part, is not genetic. Everone i know(and that is lots) with an older child with autism) did not vaccinate the younger child or children. Guess what. None of them have autism and they are incredibly healthy. There is NO such thing as a genetic epidemic. Same thing happened with my grandchildren. Younger child-not vaccinated healthy and so smart-older brother vaccines until age 2-still working to recover him at age 13. Not wasy. we need that vaccinated vs unvaccinated study of children once and for all to settle this matter. Why won't the government do this/ This article really says nothing because we don't hear about the environment-mainly vaccines.
      Maurine meleck SC

      August 15, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse |
  9. Hayden

    My sister has autism and our brothers, including myself, seem to have similar characteristics that my sister displays. However, our behavior that we experience is minuscule compared to hers.

    August 15, 2011 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Coolius Unroolius

    @ mommag: You're right: it can't be the environment. Alaska is a wholesome state and those Palin kids turned out dumb as a box of rocks like their parents. At least children with autism can get treatment. The only treatment those Palin runts can get that will help them is reincarnation. They're stuck with bad genes and idiotic parents.

    August 15, 2011 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. mommaSilverSpring

    My son has autism and is high functioning.

    Something is going on here; all of these little boys with "high functioning" autism and nobody knows why they have it?

    I was 35 when I had him. I'd be interested to know the ages of the other mothers with autistic children?

    My son also had many many ear infections as a baby and took antibiotics regularly for the ear infections.

    Navigating public school has been one of the hardest things, but I have a lot of good advise.

    Please feel free to email me dlmelton32@msn.com.

    August 15, 2011 at 05:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rh

      Nobody knew why so many kids had MR 40 years ago, and now POOF! they've disappeared for the most part. Many kids who would have been diagnosed as MR are now diagnosed as autistic.
      www dot sciencebasedmedicine dot .org slash index.php slash social-factors-in-autism-diagnosis

      August 15, 2011 at 07:04 | Report abuse |
  12. mommaSilverSpring

    Correction to the my last comment; I have a lot of good "advice", not advise.

    Anyway, best of luck to all those who are affected directly or indirectly by autism.

    It's not easy, so I send my love and support.

    August 15, 2011 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. dixie

    kids with any kind of special needs are not weird or odd, they want what everyone wants, to be accepted. my son is autistic, but my two daughters (both older than him) are fine. I treat him the same way I treat the girls no exception. the only time he has a label is when we are in public or when he is at school, truth is he is smarter than most kids in his grade and some older, how many 10 year olds do you see makeing perfect 100 on their grade cards every time. The problem as I see it is, most kids I see that are labeled "high functioning" are kids who just need to get out and play, they have to much energy built up from playing video games or sitting in front of the TV all day.for the parents on here who have children with this diagnoses, I apologize if i have offended you, but this statement is coming from a mother of a 10 year old son who has never spoken a word, hits himself if he is over excited, and will not go outside because he is afraid of grass. i know that does not make me more knowledgeable and maybe i dont have any place saying that because every child is different. but it seems this diagnoses is just a way for some parents to get away from having to spend time with their kids, put them on medicine that will make them feel like an old person to where they want to sit around all day and do nothing. i think more testing by specialist needs to be done before a child can be diagnosed, not just a regular doctor.

    August 15, 2011 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rh

      Wait a second, he won't go outside because he is afraid of grass but he's never spoken a word?

      That's a pretty detailed interpretation for someone who doesn't speak.

      August 15, 2011 at 07:02 | Report abuse |
  14. Nicole

    A major factor in autism diagnosis is how it affects functioning. If the person is functioning well in all or almost all areas of life then the diagnosis should not be made, even of the person otherwise meets the criteria. The interesting thing is this means that diagnosis is partly dependent on cultural and environmental factors in high functioning individuals. This isartly why in certain highly supportive societies (like the amish) you have much lower rates of diagnosis.

    Someone who meets that description might be said to have residual traits or a rigid/eccentric type of personality. If the individual was once diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder they might be referred to as "cured" at that point, however the individual is likely to have many atypical traits that make the term cure seem disingenuous.

    August 15, 2011 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. klhs

    It's times like these that I'm really glad that I'm a part of an Autism organization that is helping to spread the word about what Autism actually IS, as it seems many of you don't have a clue. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the brain in every child differently and to a different degree, hence the word "spectrum". Every child that is diagnosed is somewhere along that spectrum and functions at his/her own level. There are usually characteristics that are universal such as sensory, cognitive and emotional......however, even those vary widely due to each child. Autism is not something that is wanted by a parent, nor treated wtih medication (in most instances). It is treated with behaviorists and occupational therapists who help children learn to cope in a world that doesn't stop to accept them and their differences. These are VERY strong, VERY determined individuals that take many years of learning and training to be able to function in what you refer to as a "normal" environment. No one would "wish" this on a child, especially those of us who have a child who suffers with this diagnosis.

    How dare you use "reproduce" as if you are granting a person the right to have another child? This is America and we all have the right to have children. You have the chance of having a child with any number of issues, does that mean that you shouldn't have one? What if blue eyes were a disease? Would that mean that YOU couldn't "reproduce"? How dare you judge anyone.....until you've walked in someone's shoes, don't judge them. I would GLADLY have another child with Autism.....my son is amazing, special, smarter than most people I know and makes me laugh every day. He is a blessing to this world and to our family. YOU are lucky he's here.

    August 15, 2011 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • leeann

      As a parent of a child with Asperger's, THANK YOU!!!! i could not have said it better myself.

      August 16, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
  16. rh

    This just points to the fact that autism is more like a personality trait than a disease. Many families with autistic children have adults who show signs of autism such as social difficulty and hyperfocus on their own activities to the exclusion of others.

    I still have never seen a study that compares historical MR rates to current autism + MR rates. I have not seen more autistic children than the number of MR children when I was a kid.

    August 15, 2011 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Tershina

    Wow.......I did research on this issue...... and came up with the same findings!!!!

    August 15, 2011 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. elle

    All of this makes me wonder if I might have had autism spectrum. I"m 64 now, so it's probably academic (I've had a successful life as a fiction writer and screenwriter), but I think if I were exhibiting the behaviors now that I did in grade school and junior high, I would at least be tested... I learned to read at age four and was reading on an adult level by age six, but that was a mixed blessing. I read obsessively, skpped a grade and was in gifted classes - all of those serving to make me perceived as even more "different." I sat in my room and read by the hour - I did have a best friend, rode my bike and played etc., but I was socially awkward in school from the start, never one of the well-adapted, popular kids, of whom I was in total awe.

    The bullying started very early and really never let up until I was almost out of high school. Along came the late 1960s, a breath of fresh air for such as I, making it okay to be unconventional. Actually, they made it de rigeur to be unconventional - unless you wanted to be perceived as a super-compliant Young Republican scary-straight arrow! I also picked up the social skills I needed in college, where I excelled, freed from the suffocating (for me) regimentation of high school. I became fashionable and articulate, pulled together, etc., found a husband, married in a beautiful wedding and had a child (you guessed it, socially awkward and hella smart). Her experience was different from mine in some ways, since bullying is no longer treated as a rite of passage.

    But when I look back on the pain and loneliness of my childhood, I can wish it had not been so. I was friendly as a pup, but other kids made life hard for me. In fact, so did my mother, who could not figure me out and withheld her affection. Thank heaven for horses, the piano and books books books - and for candystriping! It was volunteer work that "saved" me; being around people who were very kind and happy to see me. To parents of high-functioning autism spectrum kids, I would recommend volunteering with animals, the elderly, etc. that gives them the opportunity to be welcomed and accepted for who they are, rather than judged, analyzed, or - heaven forbid - bullied.

    August 15, 2011 at 07:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kirkland

    I blame KFC. Now hear me out for why.. My second son is autistic and is severely allergic to chicken and egg protein. About the time my son was conceived, KFC came out with their KFC Famous Bowls- a wonderful mixture of potatoes, corn, and chicken. So my wild guess is that while my son was developing in the womb, the same proteins that were being used to shape and develop his body and nervous system were being fought by his immune system. To further add insult to injury, this continued through skin rashes throughout breastfeeding since his mother and I had no reason to not have chicken a couple times a week to have a little variety in our diet. It's heartbreaking to see him struggle to put what he feels into words, and we can only hope to one day hear him say "Mom".

    August 15, 2011 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rh

      You do realize that potatoes contain a poisonous chemical, solanine?

      And you also realize that any random pediatrician would have his mother on an elimination diet within a week or two?

      It's great you think you've figured out the cause of your son's autism, because so many scientists have not found it.

      August 15, 2011 at 07:23 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      That guess is wild, all right. My son is Autistic and he has allergies, too, but I didn't eat any KFC while I was pregnant. I don't like that stuff. There's not enough yuck in the world. I was very careful about my diet while I was pregnant...but I did get a spider bite.

      Spider bites cause Autism. There's my wild guess. [/silliness]

      August 15, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
    • sdp126

      Gonna have to give KFC a pass, this time. Those "wonderful" bowls you describe are revolting to even LOOK at on television. It is not KFC's fault for creating them when you have a choice to eat them or not (I pray to God you're joking about it being KFC's fault).

      August 15, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
  20. JeffinIL

    "It's already known that children with older siblings who have autism spectrum disorder or ASD, have a higher risk of developing the condition themselves..."
    BULL. You don't develop autism. You're either born with it or you're not. There may be a higher risk of being born autistic but autism isn't a disease that one may contract. If it were, there would be the possibility of a cure.

    August 15, 2011 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocksor

      Calm down, it's a matter of semantics. Autism is currently seen as a result of delayed development in communication and socialization. For some infants, it is hard to tell that they have autism. Only later in life does it become apparent that they are on the ASD specturm.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • JeffinIL

      Calm down? I'm not worked up. Find someone else to patronize.

      August 15, 2011 at 21:38 | Report abuse |
  21. Dr Bill Toth

    I shudder when research look at conditions that occur in families and then point to genetics first. Families teach their young how and what to eat, drink, behave, live and whether or not to vaccinate. Think "Cutting the ends off the ham story" . There are many many factors to consider.
    And then Live with Intention, DrBillToth.com/blog

    August 15, 2011 at 07:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. CheffoJeffo

    Whoa ... lots of ignorance and incorrect assumptions in these comments. That's really a shame.

    Most importantly, people need to stop thinking of Autism as a disease that has a single cause. It is a spectrum disorder (which is why the diagnosis of Asperger's is going to be discontinued) that we know has different causes for different people. There have been *different* genetic causes already identified for some people, but they do not explain the majority of cases.

    We don't know what all the causes are, but we do know that there isn't a single cause, or even a set combination of causes, for everybody.

    August 15, 2011 at 07:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jennifer State

    We can argue all day about causes, i.e. how much fault lies in genes vs. environment while the truth is we aren't sure yet. What we do know is there is a communication issue between and within the two sides of the brain that is at the root of autism and other neuro disorders. “Brain Sync” issues continue to be in the news as more and more studies are being done using fMRI. Early intervention makes a huge difference for children... it certainly did for my daughter. Here is an article that discusses the issue in detail and what can be done to improve brain function and communication: http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/2011/06/study-shows-poor-brain-sync-related-to-autism/

    August 15, 2011 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Heather

    While I suspect the cases are fairly uncommon, they should have also included siblings who were adopted into the study. My first two children are biological. My third is adopted. My second child has Aspberger's. I think studying adopted siblings would go a long way to seeing if it's environmental – which I HIGHLY doubt. I knew my son was different by the third day of his life when he didn't cuddle around me to nurse like nursing babies do.

    August 15, 2011 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jhutch

      They absolutely study twins and adopted siblings. This is just one of hundreds of studies that have shown an clear genetic link to autism. One problem is that because autism is a spectrum disorder, scientists are looking for multiple causes to multiple issues and this makes it hard to pinpoint the specific gene mutations that are at work.

      August 15, 2011 at 08:56 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      There have been twin studies done (both fraternal and identical). The study alludes to genetics being around 38% for the cause and that environmental issues causing up to 60% for those who have the autism genetic markers. These percentage rates do not apply to children without the autism genetic markers.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
  25. Quincey9

    So,.... That's an Old Navy inspired haiku or something?

    August 15, 2011 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Kathy

    For anyone who has autism, has a child with autism or just wants to learn more you need to read one of Dr. Temple Grandin's books. Also, if you haven't seen the movie that was made about her life (HBO) it is now out on DVD and is a very accurate portrayal of her life struggle being autistic. AND if you ever have the chance to attend one of her seminars it is invaluable.

    August 15, 2011 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Chris

    If I were born today, I'd probably be diagnosed with ASD, as would several of my siblings. I'm glad I was not. While autism certainly exhibits a spectrum of symptoms and severity, much of it should not be considered a disorder at all. I think people need to get over the idea that everyone is supposed to think and act the same. Not only do I consider my own condition to be more of a blessing than a curse, I consider highly-developed social skills to be more of a curse than a blessing. Go to any college, shopping mall, or office building in the country and you will see hundreds of VERY social people who are walking around with their eyes closed, without a single thought that they can call their own. Believe me, when you look for it, it shows.

    August 15, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rh

      Exactly. My middle brother always walked on his toes, I like to as well. We all were anti-social, and rather socialize within our family than without.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
  28. Barbara

    Smoking raises the risk of lung cancer. Having a sibling with autism doesn't "raise the risk" for later children. It is an indicator or a predictor, not a cause, unless the parents neglect the later children to the point that they emulate the one with autism and they get the label as well, whether they deserve it or not. I don't know who is writing this text, but you need to find a better way to express the facts. It is interesting to read the comments from parents with "high-functioning" but labeled autistic kids, saying they don't think the label is helping them.

    August 15, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Autismmommy

      Barbara– autism is not caused by parents neglecting their children. My child was NOT neglected at ALL. He started showing signs at age 9 months. He was held constantly. We talked to him, read to him, sung to him. I took him all over Europe (he was born in Germany). If anything, my daughter is neglected, because I have to take my son to therapy appointment after therapy appointment. She is virtually raised in a clinic!!! She's typically developing, if not anything, she's gifted. Educate yourself before spouting off crap you don't know anything about.

      August 15, 2011 at 08:57 | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      @autismmommy, I think that what Barbara was trying to say was that younger siblings of autistic children, because they may not feel they are getting as much attention as their autistic sibling, might try to emulate the autistic behavior to get more attention. I know from my own personal experience that my younger son (who is now 17) loves his older brother (who is 20, and has Aspergers) but he also feels like his older brother is a pain in the butt sometimes because of his low social skills, etc. As my younger one has gotten older he is able to understand that his older brother does have issues and is able to see that his behavior is not something directed at him.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      You know that siblings do share at least 50% of their genes right? So if a parent with an ASD child decides to have another kid, then there is a good chance that younger child will develop ASD as a the result of sharing the same genetic code of their older sibling.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
  29. Autismmommy

    My son has autism. My daughter had similar symptoms of autism up to 18 months old. But she never got it. She's the only one amongst my husband's family (siblings only) that does NOT have autism.

    August 15, 2011 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Jonathan

    New parents with Autistic children, beware of these comments. Article is good but do not read comments [if you are already reading this]

    August 15, 2011 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. DNADEB

    A shorter time between pregnancies may be a problem:
    Shorter time between pregnancies linked with increased autism risk
    Cheslack-Postava K. Pediatrics. 2011;doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2371. Over 662,730 second-born children in California were studied and it may have to do with the mother’s physiology playing a role in the autism spike due to the depletion of nutrients, particularly folate. Folate is an important vitamin and I took pre-natal vitamins with folate because deficiency can cause neural tube problems for one.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spydyee

      My kids are 2 years apart except for the 7 year gap between the youngest of the upper group and the middle kid and the 7 year gap between the middle kid and the lower pair. They are all on the spectrum and the middle kid is as profoundly affected as his full biological older brother less the mild speech delays the older son had as a child that the middle child does not. So that theory is not going to prove out in all the cases. It might be a sporadic occurrence and be true but when there are gaps of over 5 years between kids and the younger one is equally as affected or less affected as the older one then it washes that theory out as an absolute marker.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
  32. Boo Radley

    Just dont get suckered into using an online autism curriculum tool. Our school did and it was a complete disaster. Now that the profit motivated have arrived at Autism's doorstep you have to be very careful.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spydyee

      That curriculum is based in ABA discreet trial and there is nothing about ABA discreet trial that is good. There is only one great Autism methodology out there and that is TEACCH. They are the oldest and the only one that sees autistic people as not broken or in need of fixing. They promote the "Autism Culture and Community and we adult Autistics support the TEACCH methodology for teaching all Autistic kids.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
  33. Lou

    I would think that mothers would be spending less time outside looking after kids. Won't that lead to lower vitamin D level? Vitamin D is crucial to proper brain development starting in the womb. If mothers were already deficient to begin with, kids will see many health problems of all kinds. Vitamin D deficiency is much more widespread than anyone realizes and no pre-nantal vitamins won't have enough vitamin D to see any difference. Far too low. Google for Dr. Cannell's Vitamin D theory and autism. Also, google for a study involving lactating mothers needing 6400 IU of vitamin D a day to be able to produce vitamin D rich breast milk. Also Google for a study showing that autistic kids having very low vitamin D deficiency and their mothers too.

    Keep it in mind that vitamin D is not really a vitamin but a prohormone that we get from the sun, not food. We get 5000-20000 IU a day from the sun during mid-day during the summer without sunblock for 30 minutes for white people but as much as 300 minutes for black people. Bad air pollution in big cities can block UVB that is needed for vitamin D production. Not to mention sun scare that got us using sunblock lotion on all the time which can block vitamin D production in the skin. You won't find much vitamin D in the food. For example, a cup of milk contains only 100 IU and the current recommendation is only 600 IU a day. Compare that to vitamin D treatment prescribed by doctors – 50,000 IU a week (over 7000 IU a day) for 2 months to treat vitamin D deficiency. Why such huge gap? Vitamin D council website and grassroots health website contain much more accurate information about vitamin D and literally thousands of studies for you to read.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Lynn

    In my experience 45 yrs. ago the school's were just discovering the world of autism. They insisted our son had a learning disability, we knew better. He was a shy boy, just wanted to sit in the back and not be the class clown. After school meetings we realized it was the teaching atmosphere, so tutored our son at home, he went on to a university, was dean's list and now is upper management in a well known company. From our experience we feel too many families are looking for problems when the child only needs to mature and be guided in what's expected of them.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocksor

      So you have never been around a child under the age of 5 with autism? There is a significant world of difference between a child with autism and a simply shy child.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      ROCKSOR IS CORRECT. My cousin was diagnosed with Autism shortly after he was born. His older sister has lived with it every damn day and the only thing that's wrong with her health is that she is seriously depressed.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      They tried to diagnose my brother with high functioning autism and he is not even close to having the disease, they said he shows signs because he had trouble writing that's because he was left handed and they forced him to be right handed, this is truth, and he is a loner because there are no kids to hang out with that aren't trouble makers so they deemed him autistic but good thing my mother did not buy into it

      August 15, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
  35. Marie

    Only after we had our third child, who was diagnoses with mild autism when he was 3, we realized that his older brother also had something in the spectrum. he had always been very smart, but had OCDs and social difficulties. Yes, it runs in families.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. d

    this is not true... You know why siblings are more at risk??? it has nothing to do with their sibling who already has autism. It's in the environment. I have a child with autism, her autism is associated with another syndrome... here is the thing... I was sat at a round table of parent with children with autism. Half of the classroom said their was nothing wrong with their children. They were talking, potty trained, but all of a sudden within a month's time of receiving their immunizations... it changed for them. When you have half a classroom telling you that... it raises a huge red flag. Cancer and autism are at an all time high.... It's environmental. Do you know what mercury does to the brain???? What chemicals do to the brain??? It is something that takes an otherwise normal developing child and then all of a sudden something happens; something affected the child. I have put my child on a gluten and casein free diet now for three years and it has helped tremendously. She is more in touch with us; more in sync with us. Morphine puts you in space so to speak and that is what happens to our children. They are like high, but they are not. Read up on it... about the morphines glutamorphines...etc....

    August 15, 2011 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rh

      After all, it's not like mercury, other heavy metals, and serious toxins were a problem to the WWII generation, right? Because we had well-regulated industries not polluting the environment?

      People forget how horrible the environment was in the first half of the 20th century.

      And they also forget all the MR kids diagnosed in the 20th century, and how these kids were hidden because of family shame. There is no such thing as an autism epidemic, only parents who are accepting of their children.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      At least 50% of the genes are shared between siblings. So if one sibling is allergic to peanuts, there is a good chance that the second sibling may also be allergic to peanuts as an example.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
  37. d

    get your autistic children on a computer.... !!!! get them a desk and a computer!!!! help them at first... let them get on google... they will want to learn to spell words to get where they want to get to. my child has had a love for the computer and she is a wonderful speller!!!! Have them type down what they want. Practice speech with them, helping make pronounciations. Keep trying. My child is 10 and is amazing on the computer!!! You have to put emphasize on their strengths!!!!

    August 15, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lynn

      Absolutely right. Today's parents are looking for something in the environment, immunizations, whatever they can blame or just to feel part of the trend. As if 50 yrs ago we didn't have a worse environment and all our kids were immunized, even I was in the 1940's. We lived near refineries and steel mills, want to talk about environment? But we all grew up and recently attended a 50th highschool reunion. No mass deaths, no mental health issues than anyplace else, we've all just aged in a normal fashion.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  38. Steven Bulcroft

    Perhaps, the environment has a lot to do with the development of autism. A child's brain grows the most during the first 6 years of life and the environment, (TV, parenting, music, siblings, violence, etc.,) acts as either stimuli or suppressor to this growth. Since, this "disorder" doesn't begin after 6 years old (it might not be diagnosed until later but it is first evidenced before 6) I would hardly be surprised that the early childhood environment would be a huge factor in it's development. The one thing siblings with an older sibling with the disorder share is similar environments.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • frmrma

      "The one thing siblings with an older sibling with the disorder share is similar environments." That is not always completely true. People move, people change their family's eating habits, technology changes, pharmaceuticals differ, etc., which can alter the environment in which siblings are raised. I suppose if you make the erroneous assumption that all siblings are only a few years apart, raised in the same exact environment, fed the same exact diets, listen to the same music, watch the same TV (programs and time spent watching), etc., then your assumption would be true. But, coming from a family where I was the youngest with a 7 year age difference, I know that this is not always the case.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      More probably home environment. The air was thick with refineries and steel mill discharges back in the 1940-1950's. Today it's been cleaned up considerably, but people still are looking for an excuse. Check the family relationships next.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      My cousin was diagnosed within the first yer or so of his life. Environment plays little part it is all about brain genetics.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
  39. Vitamins

    Does usage of vitamins supplements (like B12) by expecting mother or by chilldren cause autism? That may be common in a family. Too much of a good thing can be bad.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Lou

    Is Scientific American right about autism?

    A Scientific American article asks, "What if Vitamin D Deficiency is a Cause of Autism?" (1) How could vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy cause autism, a genetic disease? Indeed, five researchers at Harvard, led by Dr. Dennis Kinney, recently endorsed and modified the vitamin D theory of autism. (2)

    Dr. Darryl Eyles, of the University of Queensland, added his name to growing list of scientists who agree that vitamin D deficiency plays an important role in autism. (3) Writing in Acta Paediatrica, arguably the most read pediatric journal in the world, Dr. Eyles praised the vitamin D theory of autism as being "parsimonious," with the animal studies he has conducted over the last decade.

    For the last 15 years, geneticists have tried and failed to find a common structural genetic abnormality in autism. What they have found is evidence of genetic damage; the genetic code is not properly regulated in autism, with multiple genes not being expressed, probably due to an environmental injury. As Dr. Kinney reports, vitamin D's mechanism of action is protection of the genome with direct regulation more than 1,000 human genes.

    If the gestational and early childhood vitamin D deficiency theory of autism is true, the tragedy is more poignant in that physicians could prevent the disease with adequate daily doses of vitamin D during pregnancy and early childhood. Just as important, vitamin D's mechanism of action implies a treatment effect in autistic children.

    This month, Acta Paediatrica, published yet another article on vitamin D and autism. This paper is open access; the pdf is free to download. (4) In the paper, Dr. Cannell reviews the evidence of vitamin D's involvement in autism, including evidence published after his original 2007 paper. (5)

    Glaser G. What If Vitamin D Deficiency Is a Cause of Autism? Sci Amer April 24, 2009.
    Kinney DK, Barch DH, Chayka B, Napoleon S, Munir KM. Environmental risk factors for autism: do they help cause de novo genetic mutations that contribute to the disorder? Med Hypotheses 2010;74:102–6.
    Eyles DW. Vitamin D and Autism, Does skin colour modify risk? Acta Paediatr 2010 Mar 8.
    Cannell JJ. On the Aetiology of Autism. Acta Paediatrica. ISSN 0803-5253, May 2010.
    Cannell JJ. Autism and Vitamin D. Med Hypotheses 2008;70(4):750–9. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Steve

    Firstly, duh. All three of my kids are in the spectrum. Second, stop referring to Autism as an altogether bad thing. Each of my kids is top in their respective schools in Math and Science. All three are mainstream, all three pad their respective schools testing. Get them involved in the same things other kids are in and they will eventually make friends with someone just as 'off' as they are. Celebrate Autism, at least the high functioning side of the spectrum, all the bullies causing them grief will be janitors at the businesses they own, or maybe landscapers.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Aspie's Grandma

    Wow. There is SOME intelligence in these postings, and some...mmm. how to say it? Temple's mother said in the movie "Another seminar..." The fact is that these kids are incredibly intelligent, typically carrying a much higher than normal IQ. My grandson could read, spell, and comprehend at age 3-4, but could not talk. Could not make eye contact. Could not communicate at all. He is 7 as of June, he is still struggling with communication, but he now makes eye contact, reads aloud, and quotes movie lines. He is just now having two-way, limited conversations. Two public schools later, he now has an outstanding team of therapists and teachers on his side (I call them his "posse"). I feel blessed every day to have him in my life, he has opened my eyes to another perspective...HIS!. He is not at all a burden, he is the best thing to happen to this family all the way around. I do, however, believe his mother was autistic and never diagnosed... she did not talk until she was 7. It has been a very tasking 6 years, but it is without a doubt NECESSARY for the EARLIEST diagnosis for the BEST results. Remember, 10 years ago, people thought that the kids just needed disipline, some closed minded ...em... humans still think that way. I have no doubt that he will be completely independent by the time he is an adult, given the success so far. But that doesn't mean he is less autistic or Aspergers. He is only better prepared.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Marie

    Some people will never accept the fact that environment might play a part, but autism is genetic. The same way that many people don't accept the fact that we are apes. The number of studies do not matter to them.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocksor

      Genes can mutate without any of the traits coming from the parents. There have been studies that show that parents don't have to carry the autism genes in order for the children to be born with autism.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
  44. Michele

    I cannot stand the way idiot reporters regurgitate the information in studies. The way this article is written, older sibling with ASD "raises the risk" of ASD in younger siblings is ridiculous. I expected to find that the study said that older siblings with ASD probably cause ASD in the younger sibllings.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Darwin

    Hopefully in the next 10 years scientific advances in brain research will prove once and for all that 1) the vaccine-causes-autism fanatics were completely wrong and 2) the Christian ignoramuses who claim 12 year old boys suddenly wake up one morning and say, "Wow, I think I'll dump Jesus and try the cool gay lifestyle," are equally wrong and hurtful. Whenever Christians try to use the Bible as a science/medical textbook, they usually end up making embarrassed apologies!

    August 15, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RichieP

    I wonder how the anti-immunization idiots will try to spin this. It would make that playmate of the year's head explode - if she could read.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Anne McElroy Dachel

    It seems CNN is again promoting the idea that all we need to do about autism is diagnosis it better. We're not even told that autism affects one percent of children and almost two percent of boys. That rate is based on studies of eight year olds, not eighty year olds. Something is dramatically impacting the health of our children and CNN can only cite Dr. Ozonoff, 'We pretty much know genetics is a factor somewhere in the autism puzzle, but there may be other factors that work with the genetic makeup to cause the condition. We just don't know.'

    How long will we allow autism to remain a "puzzle"? How long will we continue to lose children to an epidemic?

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

    August 15, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Anne McElroy Dachel

    Is anyone at CNN interested in the research from Swinburne University in Melbourne that was recently announced? According to researchers, "a family history of mercury poisoning could be a significant risk factor for developing autism." http://www.news-medical.net/news/20110810/Mercury-and-autism-link-strengthened.aspx

    "The researchers from Swinburne University in Melbourne surveyed 522 Australian survivors of Pink disease – a form of mercury poisoning common in the early 20th century – found one in 25 of their 398 grandchildren aged six to 12 had an autism spectrum disorder."

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

    August 15, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Marcus Morris

    Please don't trivialize a diagnosis of high functioning autism. You have no idea at all how frustrating it is to want to be normal and fit in while you are constantly seen as being slightly off. As you get older the symptoms persist and you end up with self esteem issues as well as having a tough time with long term inter personal relationship. Denial doesn't help you, and it doesn't help your kids. I am high functioning autistic. I am 32 years old and while I have a good life with my wife and two sons in our own home... I still have trouble working, I still have trouble fitting in. In fact I am starting a non profit that will help others with autism and aspergers syndrome called Guardian Spirit because I want the condition taken seriously and I have found a way to help. Guardian Spirit does virtual job training and virtual careers within second life which is a virtual game world. These experiences will hopefully lead to real world employment for the people we try to help. If you don't take the condition seriously you are causing harm to your child, not helping them. If you are interested in the program I am setting up please contact me at dj.ayzriel@gmail.com. There has been a CNN iReport about us, please read it if you are interested. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-646513 I am reposting this so that it is actually able to be found.

    August 15, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      GOD BLESS YOUR SOUL.

      August 15, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
  50. Elizabeth

    I have grown up around my cousin who suffers a real and true form of severe autism. He is about 18 years old and still cannot speak, and has about 5-10% perception and understanding level. It took my aunt years to get him to somewhat comprehend commands and directions. He will never be able to live an independent life and function with society. There is so much misconception with the disease that it makes me sick. There are so many kids being misdiagnosed because they're not normal like what the mainstream considers normal. Drugs cannot cure the disease, drugs cannot alter the disease in any way. I wish that there was something out there that can help but the reality is that it is just not true. Environment does not play a part in whether a kid has autism. The school tried to diagnose my brother with high functioning autism and my mother denied it, not because she was in denial, but because she is absolutely correct. Though the line is thin between Aspergers and Autism, there IS a line and people need to understand the differences. Children with Autism require a lot of patience, they require 24 hour, seven day a week surveillance. My cousin has no choice but to be considered in special programs because of his disease. Autism is not Autism because of lack of social interaction, it is not Autism because of sensory issues. Autism is Autism because of the lack of perception and understanding to/with the world around them that CAUSES lack of social interaction and they use their senses in order to somewhat function. I'd like to see anybody contest my comment, because I will tell you right now I know for a fact about the reality of this disease because I have grown up witnessing it with my own two eyes. Of course there are different levels of severity but to say that all children with Autism can function in society is HOGWASH. Just because a child has certain problems with fine motor skills or would rather be alone does not automatically put them in the bracket of this disease, or even Aspergers and a lot of people need to wake up and smell the coffee.

    August 15, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.