Emergence of autism spectrum disorder in children from simplex families: relations to parental perceptions of etiology

J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 May;45(5):1451-63. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2310-8.


Current research describes a four-category scheme of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) onset: early, regressive, plateau, delay + regression. To replicate prevalence of different onset types, ASD onset (per the Autism Diagnostic Interview--Revised) was examined in a large North American sample; for a subset, parents' causal beliefs were ascertained via the Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire to examine potential associations with ASD-onset types. Onset rates were similar across samples, with a slightly higher proportion of children in the subsample categorized with regression. Top-rated causes of ASD were genetics, brain structure, will of God, toxins in vaccines, and environmental pollution. Parents reporting regression more often believed that toxins in vaccines caused ASD. Influences on treatment selection and broader public-health ramifications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / epidemiology*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Regression, Psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires