Autism triggered by modern life?

Reports that autism is linked to modern environmental factors are untrue. Plus, how families affected by autism can cope with Christmas.

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Reasearch suggesting that the increase in the number of children with autism is due to modern life, and not just because more are children being diagnosed, was reported in some of this morning’s papers. It was also reported that more than 40 environmental factors had been identified as possible triggers, including mobile phones and food additives, in research carried out by two UK universities.

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However, the reports were not accurate, and the National Autistic Society (NAS) has quickly released a statement, commenting: “Reports in today’s press have suggested that a new study by the University of Exeter has identified links between autism and a number of environmental factors. However this is not the case.

“The small-scale study of 100 people actually aimed to explore layperson opinions about the causes of autism. It lists a number of speculative theories suggested by the group. The study did not in any way test the validity or reliability of the theories put forward, and nor did it intend to.”

If you’re child has autism, you’re no doubt very aware of how a change in routine, increased social activity and noisy places can cause distress. And Christmas time tends to go hand in hand with these things!

To help your family cope at Christmas, the National Autistic Society (NAS) has compiled a free guide, from creating specially designed schedules to preparing for a visit to Santa, and then on how to return to your usual routine once the festive period ends.

The NAS created the YouTube clip above. This, the first video blog for the NAS, features mum-of-two Pamela talking about what Christmas is like for her autistic son Sam.

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Around one in 100 children is autistic in the UK – and earlier this year a study suggested the number could be one in 60 children.

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