There’s still a lot of disagreement regarding the nature and causes of autism. We do know that it is a spectrum disorder, with all autistic people suffering from some level of problems, but the severity and nature of these problems differ greatly.
Autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with some instances being associated with certain pregnancy infections or drug abuse, and others having no clear source.
The diagnosis of autism is difficult because it is based on behavior, not a certain cause or a mechanism. Considering that autism affects an estimated 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls), having a possibility to not only diagnose it but predict it, through a simple brain scan, is truly exciting.
“We have been trying to identify autism as early as possible”, says team member Robert Emerson.