Autism is a developmental condition affecting the way the brain processes information. It occurs in varying levels of severity and is a lifelong condition; autistic children become autistic adults.

Much can be achieved to make life less challenging with appropriate education and support. It is crucial that there are services in place to meet the needs of the 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK today.

The National Autistic Society welcomes research into all areas which may further our understanding of autism.

The causes of autism are still being investigated. Many experts believe that the pattern of behaviour from which autism is diagnosed may not result from a single cause. There is strong evidence to suggest that autism can be caused by a variety of physical factors, all of which affect brain development – it is not due to emotional deprivation or the way a person has been brought up.

There is evidence to suggest that genetic factors are responsible for some forms of autism. Scientists have been attempting to identify which genes might be implicated in autism for some years.

Autism is likely to have multiple genes responsible rather than a single gene. The difficulty of establishing gene involvement is compounded by the interaction of genes and by their interaction with environmental factors. For these reasons genetic testing to diagnose a pre-disposition to an autistic spectrum disorder is not, at present, possible.

For information on any of the above, please contact our Press Office on 0207 903 3593 or email press@nas.org.uk.