Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum


There is no known cause for autism, despite the large amount of research that aims to find out. We asked parents what they thought caused autism and there was a wide range of responses.

Some parents said they had no idea about cause at all and others said they did not care; their emphasis was on helping their children. As one mother said:

 “Me personally? I have got no idea. I have got no idea at all. All I can say is that all my children are very individual. I just see Sam as my son and don’t see him as anything else. I know he has got lots of disabilities but I don’t see him as a disabled child."

Another mother said:

“Well I realised very quickly after I had the diagnosis for Joe, I didn’t care what caused it. I didn’t care at all. All I cared about was how was I going to get through the next day? How was he going to be the most he could be? And I thought he is clever he is not going to waste it”.

For other parents, understanding cause was important.

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Many parents talked about genetic causes and described how their children were on the autism spectrum as a result of a “genetic clash” or how they could identify other family members who had “spectrumy traits”. Some parents were on the spectrum themselves or felt that one or other of their parents were on the spectrum. One mother said,

“I don’t know how much of this is in me or not, but I mean I know that I hate being in groups of people or going to parties with people I don’t know and all the rest”.

A few parents linked autism to the working of the brain and talked about miswiring.

MMR vaccination
A couple of parents felt very strongly that their children’s autism had been caused by the Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccination.

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Most parents mentioned the MMR vaccination and a few thought that it could have been a trigger that had somehow triggered their children’s autism. Several parents had not let their children have the vaccination, or had separate vaccinations, so they dismissed it as a factor. For more information on experiences about the MMR vaccination see our Immunisation website.

Contemporary life
A few parents talked about how they thought autism was a more visible condition now because of the pace of contemporary life.

Most parents talked about a combination of possible factors and things which may have triggered their children’s autism. In addition to the above, other factors discussed included the environment, allergies, difficult birth and mercury.

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Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated January 2015.


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