Recent research indicates that mothers who were emotionally, physically, or sexually abused as children can be up to 3.5 times more likely to have an autistic child. Also, a man who was over 50 when he had a child is more likely to have grandchildren with the disorder.
This is certainly true in Rob’s case. I was physically and emotionally abused as a child. And my maternal grandfather was over 50, I believe, when my mother was born – which may have something to do with the fact that my brother has AS (I believe, although he was never formally diagnosed). I don’t know why the grandfather’s age has anything to do with having an autistic grandchild; but I do suspect that stress hormones have a great deal to do with a mother’s having an autistic child. Anyone who was abused as a child has elevated stress hormones and an exaggerated stress response. And in my case, I was also having panic attacks during my pregnancy with Rob. I was on anti-anxiety meds when I discovered I was pregnant with Rob. Of course, I stopped the meds; but maybe it would have been better to continue with them? Or on an anti-depressant? We definitely need to know more about this connection. I think increasing levels of maternal stress (and child abuse) could be the cause of the autism epidemic we are seeing in this country.