What causes autism?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,043
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses what causes autism.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: What causes autism? Peggy Halliday: No one knows what causes autism. This is an area of a great amount of research in the medical field today. There are a number of theories that are being checked out but we really don't know what causes autism. We know that researchers agree that there is some kind of genetic link and we know that at least in some children with autism environmental factors probably play a role as well. Originally, autism was found to be caused by cold, unfeeling mothers. We know that this is absolutely untrue. Whatever the causes, we know that it is present either at birth or the likelihood to develop autism is present at a child's birth.