Recently, I found an article claiming a link between having a congenital heart defect and developing Autism. According to the author of the article, Bill Hathaway, “Thanks to surgery, about 90 percent of infants born with congenital heart disease (CHD) survive to adulthood, but many face a lifetime of related health problems such as neurodevelopmental abnormalities, respiratory problems, and heart arrhythmias.” I do not know if there is a direct link or not, but to me, it fits my experience.
My girlfriend and I were born with CHD and Autism. I was born with a hole in my heart and a vein connecting to the wrong valve. If not corrected immediately, it would have been fatal. So I had my heart operated 4 months old. My girlfriend however did not have an operation to correct her heart defect until she was 9. My girlfriend developed other Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the treatment, but I am not sure about the Autism part. So linked or not, it seems unlikely that surgery caused us to be on the spectrum.
So what does a link between Autism and CHD really mean? Maybe both are symptoms of pregnancy issues. I think genetics are to blame for Autism. Maybe “blame” is the wrong word. Responsible might be better. They might also be responsible for CHD as well.
I am glad people are trying to understand the relationship between and to raise awareness about CHD and Autism. I am not sure how I feel about them trying to do both simultaneously, though. It seems that this might be too niche an approach that limits the message’s audience. I also think this article is one of those examples where it could be taken out of context. Some might read it as, “CHD is a cause for Autism”. But that is a hazard for all articles talking about Autism causes or in this case, a link between Autism and another condition.