Scientists do not know exactly what causes Asperger syndrome. However, they do know that certain areas of the brain in children with Asperger syndrome work and are shaped differently than the same brain areas in children who do not have Asperger syndrome or ASD.
These changes probably happen very early in the brain's development, when the child is still a fetus. These brain differences may lead to the thought and behavior differences seen in children with Asperger syndrome.
It is likely that some combination of genes and environmental factors causes these brain differences. Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders tend to run in families; this suggests a genetic cause. Scientists have not found a specific gene for Asperger syndrome. Instead, research suggests that several genes are related to the syndrome.1
See more information on ASD on the NICHD website.
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2005). Asperger Syndrome Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 18, 2012, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm [top]