‘Autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder’ asks: why is autism a neurodevelopmental disorder? Mental disorders that are ultimately due to genetic causes and present from early childhood are known as neurodevelopmental disorders. In autism, the gene fault gives a predisposition to become autistic, but what actually happens will depend on other risk factors. For example, being male means there is a higher risk of autism. The brain changes all the time, just like the mind. It changes as a result of what we learn. It also changes as a result of maturation, much of which is under the control of pre-set biological processes.