Autism spectrum disorder

What causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

The underlying cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is generally unknown. Scientists suspect that it is a multifactorial condition, meaning that a variety of factors (both genetic and environmental) likely contribute to the development of the condition.

Known risk factors for ASD include:

  • Male gender
  • Having a sibling with ASD
  • Having older parents (a mother who is 35 or older, and/or a father who is 40 or older when the baby is born)
  • Having certain genetic conditions (including Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis)
  • Exposure to certain prescriptive medications during pregnancy (such as valproic acid, thalidomide)

Of note, no scientific evidence for a relationship between vaccines and autism has been identified.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might autism spectrum disorder be diagnosed?

A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be suspected in young children who are not meeting typical social and language milestones. Although medical tests (i.e. blood tests, imaging studies, a hearing test) may be ordered to rule out other conditions that can be associated with similar features, there is not specific test available to confirm a diagnosis of ASD. Instead, a diagnosis is often based on guidelines from a medical book called Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A team of specialists with knowledge of standardized testing of autism may evaluate the following abilities to support a diagnosis:

  • Communication
  • Language
  • Motor skills
  • Speech
  • Success in school
  • Thinking abilities

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might autism spectrum disorder be treated?

Although there is currently no cure for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), available treatment programs significantly improve the outlook for most affected children. Treatment plans may include a combination of the following techniques, including:

For more information about the treatment and management of ASD please visit the MedlinePlus or Medscape Reference websites.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Clinical Research Resources

Autism Speaks

The Autism Speaks organization has information about the many opportunities that are available for families who want to participate in autism research. Click on the link to learn more about the way families can participate.

Last updated on 04-27-20

The Investigation of Genetic Exome Research (TIGER) study

The Investigation of Genetic Exome Research (TIGER) study is enrolling research participants ages 4 to adult to participate in a study exploring how specific genetic events may contribute to Autism Spectrum Disorders and related developmental disorders. Click on the link for a list of gene mutations currently being studied. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the study coordinator at 206-616-2889 or

Last updated on 04-27-20

NDAR National Database for Autism Research

The National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) is a collaborative biomedical informatics system being created by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to provide a national resource to support and accelerate research in autism.

Last updated on 04-27-20

Where To Start

Autism Society of America

The Autism Society of America is a support organization for individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorders. Click on the link to view their information page on ASD.

Last updated on 04-27-20

Name: Autism Society of America 4340 East-West Highway, Suite 350
Bethesda, MD, 20814-3067, United States
Phone: 301-657-0881 Toll Free: 800-328-8476 Email: Url:
Name: Autism Speaks 1 East 33rd St. 4th Floor
New York, NY, 10016, United States
Phone: 212-252-8584 Fax : 212-252-8676 Email: Url:
Name: Autism Spectrum Connection/Coalition P.O. Box 524
Crown Point , IN, 46308, United States
Phone: +1-219-789-9874 Email: Url:
Name: March of Dimes 1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY, 10605, United States
Phone: 914-997-4488 Toll Free: 888-663-4637 Fax : 914-997-4763 Email: Url:

Connect with other users with Autism spectrum disorder on the RareGuru app

Do you have information about a disease, disorder, or syndrome? Want to suggest a symptom?
Please send suggestions to RareGuru!

The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

People Using the App

Join the RareGuru Community

To connect, share, empower and heal today.

People Using the App