No One Knows What Causes Autism. There Are Just A Whole Lot Of Theories.

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

Me (6 months pregnant) & Joseph (Fall 2005). Norrin shortly after his autism diagnosis (Summer 2008).

When I was pregnant with Norrin, I had heard a little about autism but honestly didn’t give it much thought. I was very casual about my pregnancy. I gained way too much weight (a whopping 65 pounds), took my prenatal vitamins when I could (I had horrible morning sickness) and when I got the flu I consulted with my doctor and took the medicine she suggested. And at my baby shower, I even had a glass of red wine.

After Norrin was born, I was a laid back new mom. I let almost anyone hold him (so long as they washed their hands), I trusted my doctor when it came to the vaccines, and I was excited to return to work after maternity leave was over. I even went back to school and completed my Bachelor’s degree.

And then Norrin, a few months after his second birthday, was diagnosed with autism. In the weeks following his diagnosis, I tried to replay every moment of my pregnancy and every minute of his life after his birth. I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong. I blamed myself for Norrin’s autism.

I remember asking the doctor what caused Norrin’s autism. He told me no one knows for sure. Still, I went believing it was all my fault. It’s been a four years since Norrin’s diagnosis. I am in a better place. I no longer blame myself. I am not interested in curing Norrin. I have made peace with autism. And I know that there is no single known cause for autism.

Let me say that again. THERE IS NO KNOWN CAUSE FOR AUTISM.

But there are a whole lot of theories. And it seems as if every few months, a new theory pops up all over the news. The latest one being “women who had flu while they were pregnant were twice as likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism.”

And as soon as I saw the article pop up in my facebook feed I immediately thought about my pregnancy. And I may have even felt the teeny twinge of guilt. But I had to let the guilt go. Norrin’s autism isn’t my fault. And even if it was, I can’t go back and change the past. I can only look ahead. I can only think about how far he’s come.

If you’re new to the autism parenting world, or even if you’re expecting a baby, do not allow yourself to be consumed with all the possible causes of autism. There are way too many theories. In the four years since Norrin’s diagnosis, here are a few theories I’ve heard:

I’m not a doctor or scientist. I’m just a mom of a child with autism. And I don’t care what caused it, because I can’t change the fact that Norrin has autism. I’d love to focus on the families living with autism. I’d love to see special education services, schools and providers get just as much attention as the causes of autism. Because what I really care about is moving on so that Norrin can move forward.

Add a Comment
Back To To The Max
  1. by Ruby

    On November 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I was one of the preggo moms reading on vaccines hearing from all my friends who I SHOULD NOT vaccinate my son in fear of autism. I even had a DR tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. In the end I am happy I followed my heart regardless of what the outcome may have been. I knew I was doing what I thought was best for my son. I believe you did the same. Theories will trap you in a negative state of mind but as friend that has learned to know you I am in complete confidence that you are doing what is best for Norrin all while supporting and educating others on autism! Thank you again

  2. by Melissa

    On November 14, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Stay strong Momma, you are clearly doing a GREAT job and your child is thriving.

    People will always have their opinions and theories but in the end I think much more research is needed to help children with autism. And even more money is needed to educate the general public.

    Post like these definitely help those of us who do not have a child with autism understand parents who do, in the process helping us become aware and educated.

    Thank you!

  3. by Ariana Reed

    On November 15, 2012 at 12:02 am

    I want to hug you after reading this.
    Thank you for sharing this because some of us don’t know much about autism. I doubt you did anything during your pregnancy to affect Norrin but I understand your guilt. I’m glad you’ve learned to move forward and are helping others do the same.
    You are a fantastical, strong mom and I am honored to call you my friend! :]

  4. by Sabz

    On November 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    all you can do is move forward, you are a strong woman!! xoxo

  5. by Nate Wright

    On November 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Fantastic article Lisa! My daughter was diagnosed at 3. I stressed out about the cause for the first year, but when I gained full custody of her, there was little time for that, as you can imagine.

    7 years later and most parents actually envy my connection with Anna (now 11). That bond never would have been forged if I had been stressing out about the cause (or the cure).

    I was called by a Blue Cross underwriter last month who was “adjusting” my insurance quote due to the autism. They asked me if I caused it. Seriously. Yet another reason I like my current gig ;-)

    Nate Wright
    Community Manager
    BudgetDoc – San Antonio, TX

  6. by Mama Harris

    On November 18, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I really appreciate the information you put out there, I think autism is still a topic that people still don’t quite understand. It’s good that you’ve made peace with the “how’s and why’s” and just wanted to focus on your child. I applaud you, and once again look forward to learning more from your writing.

  7. by Finally! An Autism Study I Can Agree With | To The Max

    On November 6, 2013 at 5:22 am

    [...] There is no known cause for autism  just a whole lot of theories. [...]