Autism is not a rare disorder anymore. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize, however, the cause of the disorder is not well understood.
Debates and discussions have sparked with a leading neuroscientist Lady Susan Greenfield suggesting that there may be a link between increasing usage of the Internet and the rise autism.
The suggestion has been remarked as "illogical garbage" by fellow Oxford professor, and while autism campaigners have described them as "unhelpful speculation" that would upset sufferers of behavioural and communication disorders and their families, reported the Guardian.
Dr Dorothy Bishop, a professor of neuropsychology at Oxford, told the Observer that she had been upset that Greenfield, in an article in New Scientist, had apparently ignored a body of evidence that suggested most, if not all, of the rise in autism was down to a widening of the diagnostic criteria and better understanding of the condition by medical practitioners.
"Most cases are diagnosed around the age of two, when not many children are using the Internet. You don't suddenly get autism in the middle of your childhood," Bishop said. "And this rise has been documented over the past 20 years, long before Twitter and Facebook."
Greenfield says that she has various facts that support her theory. She added that she never said "the Internet is bad" for the brain. But her concerns are about the impact that technology might be having on young users.
Greenfield apologized to the families who are upset by her suggestions.
"The claims of Baroness Greenfield do seem to be largely speculative. We've had in recent years everything from MMR to early TV viewing and drinking in pregnancy blamed for autism, but none of these could be properly substantiated. "It's very unhelpful, too, to have any suggestion that computers might have a harmful role when so many people with autism, and who are very socially isolated, find they can communicate through email and the Internet," the Guardian quoted Tom Madders, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society as saying.