To honour World Autism Awareness Day today, I posted the following on my personal Facebook:
“April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day; April is World Autism Awareness Month. What do you want to know about Autism and how we live with it?”
I received FANTASTIC questions from my personal friends and thought I would post each one with my response, one per day until they stop asking questions. So, the first question is a two-part question, which I will answer separately.
“I want to know why it’s on the rise.”
So do I!! Until we know the cause of Autism, we won’t know for sure why the diagnosis rate is rising. Personally, I believe that it’s a genetic predisposition with a potential environmental trigger that “releases” Autism in someone. It’s a fascinatingly complicated disorder, that is filled with tons of highs and lows.
Is it only in the “western world” that we are in with this or is it being noticed also in other places (EU, China, etc)?
Honestly, I had to research to answer this question. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been very North American-centric in watching diagnosis rates increase. When we started on this journey, the rate was 1 in 150 in the US (don’t remember what the stats were in Canada at the time). Now, almost 6 years later, the CDC just released stats of 1 in 50 in the US (whereas last year, it was 1 in 88 in the US). The latest numbers I’ve found in Canada are 1 in 100, from a few years ago.
So, after some research elsewhere in the world, here are stats I can find:
According to Autism Europe:
- 1 in 150 children diagnosed in Europe
- They estimate 5 million people live with Autism in Europe
- Can’t find a date for these numbers but they are the same dates in the media information the organization is releasing for World Autism Awareness Day for 2013.
China has proved to be very difficult to find information and I’m not sure what information source is considered to be “valid” or reputable. But, I have found some:
- According to china.org.cn, the rate is 14% of population born, which is an estimated 1.8million children in China. This number is from 2004.
- According to EzineArticles:
- Autism is called “zi bi zheng” in Chinese (doesn’t state which dialect).
- No one was diagnosed with Autism until the 1980s in China
- There are 100 doctors in China who are qualified to make an official diagnosis of Autism
- According to Autism World:
- Rates could be anywhere from 1% to 4% of the population, which ranges from 1.3million to 7.8million children with Autism
According to the National Autistic Society in the UK, the rate is 1 in 150.
I haven’t been able to find an internationally recognized assessment tool to actually diagnose Autism. I know what the assessments are in Canada, having been through the process twice now. I’m not sure if the same assessments are used outside of Canada, let alone in non-English speaking countries.
A couple words about the most recent CDC findings, estimating the rate in the US to be 1 in 50…honestly, I question the legitimacy of these findings. From my research when it was released, 57,000 households were called in the US, asking them to participate in a survey about children’s health. 1 in 50 was determined from this survey. I wonder why stats weren’t compiled from actual diagnosis numbers throughout the country so, until those numbers are released, I personally will quote “1 in 88 in the US” as the rate.