Author's Final Manuscript
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews-Cognitive Science
The autism spectrum is highly variable, both behaviorally and neurodevelopmentally. Broadly speaking, four related factors contribute to this variability: (1) genetic processes, (2) environmental events, (3) gene × environment interactions, and (4) developmental factors. Given the complexity of the relevant processes, it appears unlikely that autism spectrum atypicalities can be attributed to any one causal mechanism. Rather, the development of neural atypicality reflects an interaction of genetic and environmental risk factors. As the individual grows, changes in neural atypicality, consequent variation in behavior, and environmental response to that behavior may become linked in a positive feedback loop that amplifies deviations from the typical developmental pattern.
Wozniak, R. H., Leezenbaum, N. B., Northrup, J. B., West, K. L. and Iverson, J. M. 2017. The development of autism spectrum disorders: variability and causal complexity. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews-Cognitive Science 8.1-2: 1-8.