Hi, I am wondering what peoples views are on whether autism/ASD is hereditary. My daughter, now 18, was diagnosed age 15. Her assessment came as a result of being an inpatient for a severe eating disorder. 6 months later my son was diagnosed at age 19. Neither my husband or myself have been diagnosed or assessed but I can't help wondering how we managed to bring our lovely children up for 15 years without picking up on the ASD. My daughter was always anxious but it appeared to be manageable. Retrospectively it clearly was not manageable and she ended up very ill.
Anyhow, I was wondering if the reason that we hadn't picked up on any ASD traits is because in our house eveybody's behaviors is perfectly typical. When we discussed how they played as children both my husband and me said to the psychologist 'but doesn't everyone play like that?'. In the tasks that they did for the ADOS they gave responses that we thought were typical responses. My husband has always been widely regarded as eccentric but he has been very fortunate in his employment in that everyone loves him for his eccentricity (including me). I myself am extremely introverted and hate social situations, avoiding them at all costs unless absolutely unavoidable. So I was wondering if the reason why both my children have ASD could be because either me or my husband (or both) unknowingly have it, and maybe that is why we haven't picked it up in our children. That is to say in our house ASD is normal and most others walking through our front door are in effect neuro atypical! I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.
I would say it is incredibly likely. Just my opinion there I'm in no way a professional
Autism is thought to be genetic but not necessarily directly inherited. It is also possible for autistic parents to have neurotypical children.
Everything (science-based) I've read since starting my journey to diagnosis says 'Yes, ASD is genetic'.
Apparently it's even possible to do a brain scan to confirm ASD.
"Moreover, research at the King’s College Institute of Psychiatry has revealed that a 15-minute magnetic resonance imaging brain scan can identify ASD with 90 per cent accuracy (Wellyn 2012)"
Wylie, Philip. Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder): How Seeking a Diagnosis in Adulthood Can Change Your Life (p. 66). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.
It is VERY common for adults to get diagnosed with ASD late in life following getting a diagnosis for one or more of their children.
When going through my own assessment my parents kept saying "We didn't spot anything odd..." and yeah, I can definitely see traits in my parents and grandparents now I know what I'm looking for...
Thank you for your replies. I thought as much. I also had an uncle who was diagnosed with schizophrenia back in the 1940's but there wasn't a diagnosis of autism in the 40's and having known him until he died when I was 43 I can say quite confidently that he had many ASD traits and struggled to talk to people. My cousin's grandson is severely impacted.
I don't intend to seek a diagnosis though because I have lived with myself quite happily for 54 years and have at this age accepted the things that old me back are not due to a lack of ability but a lack of/inability to put myself through a ridiculous amount of stress. In short I have been very lucky and am happy with myself now. I just wish I could pass this on to my lovely daughter who is still struggling massively. I also wish my son hadn't sought a diagnosis because it came in his second year at Uni and he now thinks he can't succeed in his chosen field of study because ASD will hold him back. I also think my husband has secretly decided that he has ASD but he also doesn't want to go through assessment. We both work in an Engineering R&D environment and I have read that there is a higher than average proportion of people with ASD work as Engineers and in R&D.
Given the patterns within my family over a number of generations, i'd be very surprised to find it wasn't. I also now believe that this is what drew me to my husband as I think we're both neurodivergent. Consequently (i think) so are our sons.
As Philip Wylie states, again in the "Very Late Diagnosis" book, "Be aware that there is a very powerful law of attraction between similar people who have neurological conditions" and also that, "the popular idiom "birds of a feather flock together" is relevent to people who have ASD". He also refers to the "path of autism" in families and recommends that the pathway should be investigated on a family basis rather than individually (not that this happens, but I think he's onto something).
Following my own very late diagnosis last year, i can now easily join the dots and track this path within my own family. In fact, i can't believe I didn't see it a great deal sooner, even if the issues that tended to crop up did attract different labels over the years (usually depression or anxiety). What i now see is that undiagnosed (and therefore unsupported) autism was the ground on which these other issues grew.
That said, i used to think we all just shared family traits and that this was our normal. Yes, we tend to be a bit eccentric and sensitive, but so what? So in many ways it's been easy for autism to hide in plain sight for so long.
For me, being able to say to people "I have ASD/Asperger's Syndrome and this means.... <insert explanation of why I may do/have done something odd/that caused upset etc.> " has taken a ton of stress off me and has actually reduced the frequency of 'incidents'.
I think it's important to have a 'mentor' if you're struggling with the diagnosis - this could help your daughter and also (if he went that route) your son - seeing a positive role model for what ASD looks like 'In real life' vs. the (overwhelmingly negative) list of diagnostic traits and (naively ill-informed) portrayals of aspies/auties in popular media could help them understand the areas that having ASD means they can excel in.
I'm a Business Analyst in IT - I am brilliant at it and I think I would be a shadow of myself in this area if I didn't have ASD.
There are a lot of engineering types here.
Self-acceptance is key to happiness, using precious energy trying to 'mask' is ultimately futile and will only lead to low self-esteem when one constantly fails to 'pass' as NT
Very sound advice. Despite my negativity regarding my son's diagnosis he is actually embracing it and receiving help from his Uni (he is studying physics) and is prepared to accept help so that is good news. However, my daughter although accepting of the fact she has ASD, refuses any help of any kind from anyone. I think this is partly a result of the traumatic experience she has had of being a CAMHS inpatient for 2.5 years as a result of her eating disorder. Her perception of people trying to help her is associated with being made to do things she didn't want to do (including restraint unfortunately) and because her thought patterns are so rigid she cannot believe that someone trying to help her will end well! Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel possibly as she was discharged last week and is studying Wildlife Conservation. You're right about acceptance though. Until she fully embraces her differences her self esteem will remain very poor. Her self esteem is so bad and i think this led to her eating disorder. She accepts she has ASC but she says there is nothing that can be done about it that's just the way she is. However, what she hasn't accepted yet, and as you alluded to, is that there is nothing wrong with the way she is. She is very intelligent, a fantastic pianist and a very caring individual but she cannot see any of this.
I would say the genetic link is probably best explained as there being a higher chance of having children on the spectrum if you or your partner is. Looking back through the generations in my family, I never met my father but he has always been described as "odd", both my grandfather's were somewhat reclusive (said very little unless it was about trains or something that interested then. Would often disappear to the shed if there was lots of people around) and going back further I've heard stories about eccentric uncles etc. It was never picked up in me when I was a child because, as you say about your family, my behaviours were considered normal by my own families standards.
I know of no signs of ASD in my parents and siblings.
I would say that both my parents have it, I wonder about my sister and wonder if she has just managed to appear normal as girls do. My parents ended up divorcing amid a lot of rows which at the time appeared to be my mothers cause but I think the blame is mutual. they have just got back together again but living seperately and with no more family interfearance.
A lot of research suggests that autism is at least partially genetic, although the levels found range anywhere from 20% to 80% by most accounts. Part of the problem is that autism doesn't appear to be linked to one specific gene, but more likely a combination of genes, and even then, the environment contributes to the presence or absence of autism. It's a complex issue that will take time for fully uncover.
Much love <3