I’ve had the privilege of interacting with several children with autism either during the years I was teaching, or through extracurricular activities like summer camp. The children I’ve been around were mostly high functioning, but autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can range from mild to severe and often there’s no way to tell how affected a child is until they’re at least past their toddler stage and no one is quite sure was the direct cause of autism is.

A recent study from the Arizona State University has shown that many children with autism have elevated levels of toxic metals in their blood and urine. The study was led by James Adams, a President's Professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy who also directed the ASU Autism/Asperger's Research Program. The study involved 55 children with autism between the ages of 5-16 years along with a control group of 44 children of similar age and gender. The most common metals found in the participants blood and urine were Lead, thallium, tin, and tungsten.

Children born with autism struggle with developing social skills and empathy for other people. Typically, one of the first symptoms of autism is an inability or discomfort in making eye contact. Children with autism don’t always know how to start a conversation or talk with people easily. They generally avoid physical contact, though it’s also just as likely that they will gladly receive affection from relatives and family members quite easily. Loud smells, sounds, and lights can be stressful and overwhelming for children with autism and they also like to know what’s going to happen. Knowing the schedule or plan of events is very soothing and calming for children with autism and not knowing what’s going to happen is immensely stressful and can make children anxious and act out.

Again, there are many theories about what causes autism. Some have been discarded over the decades, and some still remain and are considered the most likely causes due to the amount of recorded research and consistency. Some theories about what causes autism include parents who are bipolar or schizophrenic, elderly fathers, gene mutations, immune system irregularities, and air pollution.

Having a child be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be a shock to some parents, but it doesn’t mean that your child can’t have a full, happy life. Though people with autism struggle socially and usually learn in different ways, they are often known to have incredibly high IQs and possess a talent for computer science. 

Arizona State University (2013, February 25). Higher levels of several toxic metals found in children with autism. ScienceDaily.