PThis parent-powered project uses your help in finding environmental causes of autism. Parents can help pinpoint environmental factors which are causing the stunning increase in autism by answering questions about their own possible exposures.
Who we are:
Emily Diamond, Psy.D., the principle researcher, is a professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California.
James M. Diamond, M.D., is a pediatrician who shares an interest in neurodevelopmental problems and environmental health with his daughter Emily.
If you are the parent of a child on the Spectrum:
We’re doing research, but we also take autism very personally. It’s a diagnosis and it’s a label but we know people are so much more. We’re gathering and interpreting information which parents give us, following up leads and clues, in order to reach answers which can be useful for real people, parents and children. We hope you’ll help, if you’re the parent of a child on the spectrum, by answering our Survey questions.
Exploring Environmental Causes of Autism Spectrum diagnoses
What’s to blame for the surge in autism diagnoses? We keep hearing about genes that may be to blame, but blaming genes is just another way of blaming parents. We think there’s much more to it. Human genes haven’t changed so much in the last 15 years, so the big increase in these diagnoses must have other causes, too. With the help of parents in many different communities and countries we hope to better understand the relationship between autism and environmental toxins and other hazards of modern living.
This is a parent powered project. We are posting Surveys for parents of children on the spectrum. The first is a general survey covering a variety of possible exposures. The second one dealt with a particular class of widely used chemical pesticides called neonicotinoids or “neonics” whose use has exploded in recent years. That one is now finished and we will report on the results soon. We plan to follow up on all the leads or clues you give us, so there will be a Survey 3 soon.
Are toxins and environmental pollutants risk factors for autism?
The simple answer is yes, that is what research on car exhaust pollution, some medications, pesticides and herbicides is pointing to. But we’re exposed to so many things in our homes, work places, and communities that it’s hard to know the particular toxins that may be responsible. As we said above, it’s not just “in the genes” because younger people are far more likely to have an autism diagnosis than people born a generation earlier and our genes can’t change that fast. Our Surveys are designed to find the chemicals or other environmental factors which are most to blame for the increased incidence of autism. To do this, we need information from many, many parents. We hope you’ll be among them.
What kind of toxins are in our environment?
We’re exposed to many kinds of toxins and chemicals in our environment. Some of them we may know about, such as when we see smog in the air, or we consider buying organic food, because we’re worried about herbicides and pesticides. Then there are other things we may not be so aware of, such as living downwind from a chemical plant, or things we use on our skin, or chemical exposures at work.
Click here for links to further information about environmental toxins. You may also find information on our “Library Corner” (listed on the menu).