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Autism spectrum disorders have no one single cause, but it is widely accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in the brain structure and neural connections between various areas of the brain. Some studies of individuals with the disorder have shown abnormalities in several regions of the brain, including the cerebellum, amygdala and hippocampus.

Researchers are investigating a number of theories regarding the cause of the disorder. Genetics are believed to be the primary cause with several gene combinations contributing. Researchers are searching for irregular segments of genetic code in individuals with autism spectrum disorder and have currently identified several possible genes.

While genetics are suspected to be the root cause, other factors may also contribute. Researchers are investigating problems during pregnancy or delivery as well as environmental factors, such as viral infections, metabolic imbalances, and exposure to environmental chemicals.

While research has provided substantial findings, further study is needed.

VCU Rehabilitation Research Training Center on Workplace Supports and Job Retention Virginia Commonwealth University