Autism & mental health

Autism & mental health

Autism & mental health 2000 1333 Team Mindsum
Listen to this article (10:57)
Last updated: 4 January 2021

What is ASD?

Causes of ASD

The signs of ASD

Managing ASD

List of useful resources

How Mindsum can help?


What is ASD?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects social interaction, communication and behaviour. It is referred to as a spectrum condition because it affects each person differently.

ASD is not an illness. It is a life-long condition that affects the way people see and interact with the world.

Not all children and young people with ASD suffer from mental health issues, although it is very common. Children and young people with ASD can have mental and behavioural issues such as anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning difficulties. It is important to support children and young people with ASD in managing the condition and preventing these mental health problems.

Causes of ASD

The specific cause of ASD is not known. It is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Here are some factors that are associated with ASD:

  • Boys are 3-4 times more likely to be affected by ASD than girls

  • Genetics (e.g. sibling with ASD)

  • Parent with psychosis, schizophrenia or affective disorder

  • Birth defects

  • Premature birth

  • Use of sodium valproate during pregnancy

  • Existing learning difficulties

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

  • Other genetic conditions (e.g. muscle dystrophy, down’s syndrome, fragile X syndrome)

Autism is NOT caused by:

  • Bad parenting

  • Vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine

  • Diet

  • An infection you can spread to other people

A video explaining Autism – The National Autistic Society

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