Is Autism Hereditary? Speech Therapist's Experience
Feb 4, 2022 The content in this blog may be debatable to some, HOWEVER, I am responding to this question out of personal experience. It is not to cause a debate or spark controversy.
In This Article
If you are reading this blog, I assume that you know what autism spectrum disorder entails.
Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.Mayo Clinic
Autism and Speech Blubs
Speech Blubs is a speech therapy app with a vast library of more than 1,500 activities, face filters, voice-activated activities, and educational bonus videos.
Speech Blubs was initially developed for children with autism, Down syndrome, and apraxia of speech! The app uses video modeling, which is a proven method for engaging kids on the spectrum.
Our “Emotions” section, for example, was created for children with autism in mind. We know they have a hard time recognizing and expressing emotions. In this section, they learn about emotions while practicing speech.
Boost Your Child’s Speech Development!
Improve language & communication skills with fun learning!
What Causes Autism?
As a clinician, I get the question, “What causes autism?” a lot. Scientists DO NOT KNOW what causes autism specifically, so I can’t give you a research study or scientific answer for the question “Is autism hereditary”.
My Experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist
I am not a scientist or researcher, but I have read TONS of research and seen a large number of children who are diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder and I can tell you that some common characteristics.
Some of the risk factors include:
- Having a parent or family member that has been diagnosed as being on the spectrum.
- Boys have a higher incidence of autism. I have seen only a handful of girls being diagnosed in my 12 years experience as compared to boys.
- Vaccinated versus unvaccinated. This is HUGELY debated and this blog isn’t for that purpose, BUT the kids on my caseload – it didn’t matter if they were vaccinated or not. I’ve had kids who were unvaccinated who had severe autism, as well as kids that were vaccinated who had the same diagnosis.
- Parents ages – kids whose parents are older, seem to be at an increased risk of being diagnosed with autism.
- Extremely premature babies. I’m talking babies that have been born before 26 weeks gestation.
Read more about the 7 causes for Autism:
Despite extensive research, no reliable study has shown a link between autism spectrum disorder and any vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted due to poor design and questionable research methods.Mayo Clinic
If you want my professional opinion, it’s a combination of genetic factors AND environmental factors.
New Jersey has one of the highest diagnosis rates of autism spectrum disorder. Why is that? We don’t know. That is what scientists are trying to figure out.
I lived and practiced in Pennsylvania at the beginning of my career and I occasionally received a child who had been diagnosed. Once I moved to NJ, my caseload ranged from 50%-75% of children who were diagnosed. That’s a huge jump between two states.
The Role of Genes in Autism
Several different genes appear to be involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, autism spectrum disorder can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome.
For other children, genetic changes (gene mutations) may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder (Mayo Clinic).
Still, other genes may affect brain development or the way that brain cells communicate, or they may determine the severity of symptoms. Some genetic mutations seem to be inherited, while others occur spontaneously. It is possible that Autism is a mainly male gene, but we don’t have an answer if Autism is hereditary.