- Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts 1 in 100 children worldwide.
- Recent years have seen an alarming rise in autism cases worldwide.
What Are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder affecting how people interact and communicate. People with this disorder have marked difficulties in their
- Everyday, often repetitive, behavior
- Social communication and interaction
- Everyday functioning in school, work, and other areas of life
Diagnosis And Prevalence Of Autism
Sometimes, autism can be detected as early as 6-18 months of age. An experienced professional can make a reliable diagnosis by age 2. However, many children are not diagnosed until much later in life. Research, nonetheless, estimates that, worldwide, 1 in 100 children has autism.
Are Autism Cases Rising In Recent Years?
There is an ongoing debate about whether the prevalence of ASDs is increasing or whether improved awareness, diagnosis, and reporting contribute to higher rates.
For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of ASDs has increased from 1 in 150 children in 2000 to 1 in 54 children in 2016 in the United States.
Recent surveys show that 1 in 36 eight-year-olds (2.8%) had autism in 2020 — a jump up from the 2.3% prevalence registered in 2018. The rise in the number of autism cases in the US is equal for children of both white and colored communities.
Similar studies show a rise in the number of autism cases in the world. A recent study conducted in South Korea found that there are 18.53 cases of autism per 100,000 persons when looking at all age groups.
In the United Kingdom, the bulk of ASDs among children aged 8 increased from 1 in 166 in 2004 to 1 in 54 in 2018. In India, in 2020, one in 125 children between 2-6 years of age has autism; this data shows that the rate of autism has risen by four folds since 2017.
Causes Of Rise In Autism Cases
The rise in the prevalence of autism has been majorly attributed to changes in diagnostic criteria and increased awareness and screening for ASDs, which has led to more cases being identified. Other factors contributing to the development of ASDs include:
- Premature birth
- Maternal stress
- Exposure to toxins, infections, or nutritional deficiencies
- Exposure to air pollution, etc.
Autism Awareness In Recent Years
Autism awareness has increased significantly in recent years. Despite the increase in prevalence, there has been a greater understanding of the range of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their impact on individuals—child and adult alike.
Early detection and intervention have been prioritized, with efforts to increase screening and diagnosis of ASD in young children. Research into the causes and treatments of ASD has expanded, leading to early behavioral and educational interventions and therapies that result in improved health outcomes for people of all ages with ASDs.
In many countries, legislation has been introduced to protect the rights of individuals with ASD and to provide support and accommodations in education, employment, and other areas of life.
Additionally, there has been increased advocacy for autism acceptance through internationally recognized endeavors like World Autism Awareness Day (2 April) and Autism Awareness Month (the entire month of April).
This also includes a greater focus on promoting inclusion in society and reducing stigma towards individuals with ASDs and their families.