Young boy pointing at the text 'The Top 3 Risk Factors For Autism with Stephen Gundy.'

In an era where autism diagnoses are increasing globally, it is crucial to understand the underlying risk factors. This knowledge not only aids in proactive support but specifically assists in developing strategies that address the needs of individuals with autism from an early age. Recognizing the risk factors can help parents, educators, and healthcare providers to intervene at critical developmental stages,  improving the overall prognosis for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Defining Risk Factors for Autism

Risk factors for autism are generally classified into three categories: genetic, environmental, and developmental. Each category plays a significant role in the likelihood of an individual developing autism. First, genetic factors include family history and genetic mutations. Having a family member diagnosed increases the likelihood of developing the condition. Also, certain genetic mutations are associated with an increased risk of autism. These mutations may be inherited or occur spontaneously. Environmental Factors include the age of the parents. Research indicates that children born to older parents are at higher risk for Autism. Prenatal exposure to certain toxins have been linked to higher risk and maternal nutrition, health during pregnancy and exposure to certain medication can influence risk. Developmental risk factors include premature birth meaning babies born before 26 weeks of gestation are at a higher risk and significantly low birth weight with infants have shown a higher prevalence of Autism. 

You Are Your Child’s Greatest Asset

Understanding these risk factors enables screening and diagnosis, which are critical for implementing  interventions early on that dramatically improve cognitive, social, and educational outcomes for your autistic child. If your child is at risk and needs screening, look to early intervention services in your state. In the United States the Individuals with Disabilities and Education Act (IDEA) requires that families receive these services at no cost. Additionally, begin researching and get to know government programs that assist with mitigating costs like Social Security, Medicaid Waivers, and Vocational Rehabilitation in your area in addition to your physician. 

Receiving the diagnosis and moving forward can be overwhelming and result in fatigue, so it’s important that you take things one step at a time. It’s not uncommon to feel you are experiencing the loss of what you anticipated your parenting experience would be. But being honest with your feelings, no matter what they may be, are a part of your humanity and that should be honored and respected. The path to support that minimizes the impact of the diagnosis is a journey and you are the greatest asset in the life of your autistic child.

For personalized guidance and support, explore our Autism Coaching services or set up a call by clicking the connect button below.

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