Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them.
beginning of content

Causes of autism

1-minute read

When a child is diagnosed with autism, parents and loved ones look for answers, including trying to understand the causes. Discovering a child has autism can be difficult.

It’s uncertain what causes autism, but there is strong evidence for a genetic link. Research is also looking at the role of the environment in triggering autism, such as viral infections, complications during pregnancy and air pollutants.

Autism has been mistakenly associated with childhood vaccinations. This may be because the onset of the symptoms and signs of autism becoming more noticeable often coincides with the timing of a child’s immunisation. However, numerous clinical studies have tested this theory, and there is a solid body of scientific evidence that vaccines do not cause autism.

Likewise, autism is not caused by a person’s cultural or social surroundings.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Myths and misconceptions about autism - Autism Awareness Australia

Autism spectrum disorder comes with a whole host of myths and misconceptions. Here are the top five myths about autism in today's society, along with the actual truth!

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Research: Autism Spectrum Disorder - Autism Awareness Australia

Here is a list of what we consider to be the most credible and reliable sources for research on Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Autism Spectrum Disorder | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? ASD is a developmental disorder

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

What causes autism spectrum disorder? | Raising Children Network

What causes autism spectrum disorder? Autism isnt caused by anything that parents do. Causes of ASD might include brain development and genetic factors.

Read more on website

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) -

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that causes problems with social understanding, social behaviour and communication.

Read more on myDr website

Vaccination and autism fact sheet | Australian Government Department of Health

This fact sheet explains how we know vaccination does not cause autism and where the misunderstanding came from.

Read more on Department of Health website


What is autism?

Read more on WA Health website

Autism spectrum disorder & family stress | Raising Children Network

Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can cause family stress. If this sounds like your family, read this article for stress management ideas.

Read more on website

Fragile X syndrome in children

Fragile X syndrome causes intellectual disability and other challenges. Early intervention and support helps children with Fragile X explore their abilities.

Read more on website

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) | Novita

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterised by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, a restricted repertoire of activities and interests, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviour

Read more on Novita Children's Services website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo