What causes Autism and how is it different from ADHD/SPD?

Nobody knows why some children become autistic. But, science has seen some large correlations on the below factors at large. Below is the list of factors observed to have a high correlation (no one can really put a finger on the cause).

  1. Fevers during 12 week pregnancy:

Mothers who had a fever during the second trimester of pregnancy had a roughly 40% higher chance of having a child with autism. Link: https://www.clearvuehealth.com/b/pregnancy-fever-autism/

2. Gestational Diabetes:

Several epidemiological studies have shown that there is an association between metabolic conditions, including diabetes, during pregnancy and ASD6,7,8,9. Interestingly, not only is preexisting diabetes associated with autism, but also studies have found an association between autism and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). A large epidemiological study found that maternal diabetes, especially GDM, is associated with an increased risk of ASD in offspring7.

Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-020-01096-7#:~:text=Interestingly%2C%20not%20only%20is%20preexisting,of%20ASD%20in%20offspring7.

3. One of the parents having ADHD/Down’s Syndrome/SPD

If one of the parents (mother or father) or immediate family have an issue of ADHD/Down’s Syndrome. Researchers are not sure whether this constitutes a genetic risk, an environmental risk, or some combination of both. Of the mothers in the sample of the study, 519 had a diagnosis of ADHD and a statistically insignificant nine mothers were diagnosed with autism.

Link: https://integratedlistening.com/blog/mothers-adhd-likely-children-autism/#:~:text=When%20a%20mother%20is%20diagnosed,or%20some%20combination%20of%20both.

ADHD and Autism can look a lot like each other until a elder age. Only at an elder age, will the difference come out. Children with Autism might like order very much, they don’t want things to change. Children with ADHD don’t like routines, they want things to be different. A child with Autism might struggle with empathy, a child with ADHD will struggle with telling simple lies. They just cannot understand the purpose of being politically right. A child with autism might want the same type of food at a favorite restaurant, for instance, or become overly attached to one toy or shirt. They can become upset when routines change. On the other hand, a child with ADHD doesn’t want the same of anything – they want a constant change.

Children with ADHD or SPD struggle with food issues because they face sensory issues with food.



4. People undergoing pregnancy at an older age have a higher risk of autistic children.

This is a generally true statement. People undergoing pregnancy at a higher age generally have a higher risk of everything. So, will be the risk of autism.

5. Genetic Factors

Research tells us that autism and ahd tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child (even if the parent does not have autism). Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, the majority of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They simply increase risk for the disorder.

6. Environmental Factors

Research also shows that certain environmental influences may further increase – or reduce – autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Importantly, the increase or decrease in risk appears to be small for any one of these risk factors.

7. Vaccines

It is commonly said that there are some vaccines that cause autism in children, especially the MMR vaccine. While science has disproven it repeatedly, there is a huge correlation between people taking certain vaccines and autism.

8. Fever in a child causing autism

Some parents have observed that their child was normal until about 8-9 months and before 12 months. Only after a major fever occurred to the child and the child suffered a high temperature, they started seeing a sudden behavioral change in the baby, like not responding to the name, etc. This is again not proven by science, but many parents have observed this.

9. Fever in a child reducing autism

Contrary to the above, some parents have seen that when an autistic child faced a huge fever, their symptoms of autism have actually reduced.

Link: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/cracking-fever-autism-mystery

It’s common for children with an autism spectrum disorder to also have signs of ADHD. Also, some kids who’ve been diagnosed with ADHD may also have a history of autism, with symptoms like trouble with social skills or being extra sensitive to textures of clothes and food, and they may have trouble paying attention for long periods.


Work with your child’s care team to find a treatment plan that’s right for your little one. It might include both behavior therapy for autism and medication for ADHD.

Some doctors say that ADHD medication is important for children who have both conditions. ADHD drugs may help for certain autism symptoms that sometimes overlap with ADHD, like being hyper, impulsive, or inattentive. Stimulant ADHD medications may cause more side effects and might not work as well as they would for a child who has ADHD alone, though.

Hope this is useful, thank you.

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