Normally it is necessary to start this article with the definition of autism. However, we have a hard time doing this. Because it is not known exactly what autism is. It is included in many diagnoses. There is no definition of autism defined with precise and clear lines. In an article published in a journal, it is pointed out that there are serious incompatibilities in this regard, even in different versions of the DSM handbook, which provides cataloging mental illnesses.
Autism is not seen as a “categorical disorder” today. Rather, it is seen as “spectrum disorder”. In other words, there is no such thing as “you have autism or you do not”. Depending on how you are in each of the categories specified, you may be at any point in the range between having autism and not. This makes it difficult to diagnose and assessment of autism, making the meaning of statistics in this field ambiguous.
This does not only affect diagnosis and statistics. It also has a direct impact on how autism research can be done. As the definition of autism becomes ambiguous and the number of populations identified as having autism increases, the smallest population required to conduct autism research is rapidly expanding. This not only results in shadowing the results of former researches but also results in new studies requiring more participants. Accordingly, how the researchers approach autism is radically changing. Naturally, this also directly affects you if you have a family member with autism.
If the definition of autism becomes very ordinary and has been dismissed as a problem, autism research may find it difficult to identify the aids that need to be given to those people. This may be one of the reasons why a remarkable breakthrough in autism research has not been achieved in the last 10 years.
In today’s world, even though it is hard to tell the exact reason for rising the prevalence rate of autism, researches state a couple of main reasons. These reasons could be people are more aware, diagnosis criteria are broader, and anything else. According to statistics published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among every 68 children, there is at least 1 child with an autism spectrum disorder. The prevalence rate is higher in boys than in girls. While it is 1 in 42 among boys, it is 1 in 189 among girls.
As we all know, the prevalence rate has been rising step by step. This rising is happening since the first investigation is done which is in 2000. According to the researchers, the main reasons behind this rising are awareness about autism and broaden the definition of autism. Now, there are many things that are included in the term. By the time, this rising has become more apparent.
The diagnosis of autism is done by experts’ observations and family stories. This diagnosis criteria also makes it rising more. There is no concrete and certain testing for autism even though researchers try to develop some testing, such as blood testing, brain scanning, and so on. Since they are not possible to understand whether a child has autism or not, diagnosis relies on observations of behaviors.
In order to obtain these numbers, researchers in The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observe children who are 8 years old and live in the USA. The first investigation was done in 2000. It was supported by Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.
After the first investigation, this observation has been done every two years. The target population has been children who are 8 years old because of the fact that if there is a sign of autism, it reaches its peak around this age. It is easier to observe whether the child meets the diagnostic criteria or not. It is easier to make a health assessment.
How Has Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Changed Over Time?
Unfortunately, the prevalence rate has been drastically increased over the past decades. Since the early 1990s, this increase has been observed around the world. In 2000, it was 1 in 150 children. In 2008, it was 1 in 88 children. And, according to the latest one, it was 1 in 68 children. As can be understood, there is a steady rising in autism prevalence. While it was about 30%, then it became more than 200%.
- Approximately 1 in 54 children are getting diagnosed with autism.
- Among boys, the rate is 1 in 34.
- Among girls, the rate is 1 in 144.
- Boys are more likely to get a diagnosis of autism.
- Even though a child can get a diagnosis at age 2, most children don’t get a diagnosis until age 4. It is mostly the parents’ fault. They don’t want to believe their children have problems. They don’t want to accept their children’s needs.
- Most children with autism have an intellectual disability.
- 1/3 of individuals with autism are nonverbal.
- At least 2/3 of individuals with autism have been bullied during school years, mostly between 9 to 15 years old.
- Nearly 2/3 of individuals with autism are likely to engage in self-injurious and self-harming behaviors.
- Nearly 90% of deaths in the autism community are observed among the children who are 14 or younger.
- In the case of autism, there is no selectivity on ethnicity, race, and economical status.
- Education is very important in order to get diagnosed. If the parents are not enough educated and not aware of what autism is, their children are more likely to get diagnosed later.
- Early intervention and early diagnosis of autism are very important in order to get a proper treatment plan. With the proper treatment, people on the autism spectrum can live a better life and quality life. It will be beneficial in their whole life.
- There is no specific testing and assessments for autism. It is based on pediatricians’ observations.
- There is no certain treatment and medicine in order to cure autism spectrum disorder completely.
How Accurate Is the Approach of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)?
First of all, these diagnoses are done according to school and medical records. It is not accurate enough like assessments doing in person. There are some children who don’t go to school and who are in home-schooling. These diagnoses don’t include those children. On the other hand, researchers are collecting these data from certain areas and also it is not enough to generalize these results. It doesn’t include restricted areas, isolated areas, or different states apart from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chose. The target area is not representative.
Another reason why we believe that it is not accurate enough is that the rates change dramatically between states. The difference relies on awareness of autism spectrum disorder, instead of services that are provided to the autism community.
Has the Definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder Broadened Over the Years?
Obviously, the definition of autism spectrum disorder has changed over the years as it supposed to be. However, this definition has been broadening since the first definition done by Leo Kanner. According to the first definition, only children who were socially isolated and withdrawn were included. Only they were seen as children with autism.
After the first description, the estimation prevalence rate was 1 in 2500 children. Most probably this estimation was based on severe autism. Because in those times only sever autism symptoms were being observed. If the child would have mild symptoms, they were not included in this estimation.
Before 1991, children with autism were accepted as children with intellectual disabilities. After this year, this trend has changed. This change gave families the courage to take their children to pediatricians to get an assessment of autism.
In 1994, the 4th edition of the DSM was published. The definition of autism has been broadened. They included Asperger’s syndrome in the 4th edition. Then, in 2013, the 5th edition of the DSM was released. According to the last definition, autism is a spectrum disorder. Now, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified and many others are collected under one diagnosis which is an autism spectrum disorder. It is the term that even now used by pediatricians.
Nevertheless, the last estimation of the prevalence rate was done based on DSM-4. The next one will be based on DSM-5 and researchers believe that the prevalence rate will be lower.
How Does the Awareness of Autism Contribute to the Prevalence Rate of Autism?
Over the past decades, awareness of autism spectrum disorder has been increased. That increase is not mild. It is very obvious. And as a result, it has contributed to an increase in the prevalence rate of autism.
There are some main reasons in order to raise awareness and be aware of what autism is and their symptoms. These reasons could be living in urban and big cities, good medical care, and easy access to medical care, and educated parents. If people are more aware of the symptoms, they are more okay with having someone with autism around them. And, if people are more aware of the symptoms, those individuals with autism are more likely to get a diagnosis earlier.
Early diagnosis gives them an opportunity to get specialized services, special education, and a good treatment plan. This opportunity is beneficial for both parties, for both children themselves and their pediatricians. Pediatricians would be more helpful in this case. They can make a good treatment and therapy plan for them.
Moreover, according to DSM-5, the overlap is acceptable. Because of this reason, children get a more accurate diagnosis. This accurate diagnosis leads them to take a good treatment plan. For example, before children didn’t get ADHD and Autism diagnosis at the same time, however, in today’s world, it is highly acceptable. According to DSM-5, it is possible to get multiple diagnoses based on their developmental delay. After these diagnostic criteria, increasing in prevalence rate has been observed all over the world, not only in the US.
The awareness has arisen, criteria have been broadened, the population all over the world is more crowded, there are more educated people and biological changes are happening over the last decades. And, all of them contribute to the prevalence rate of autism spectrum disorder.
Prevalence Rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Some Countries
- Hong Kong: 372 in 10000 children
- South Korea: 263 in 10000 children
- United States: 222 in 10000 children
- Japan: 181 in 10000 children
- Ireland: 153 in 10000 children
- Switzerland: 145 in 10000 children
- Canada: 106 in 10000 children
- Denmark: 69 in 10000 children
- Singapore: 67 in 10000 children
- Belgium: 60 in 10000 children
- Estonia: 60 in 10000 children
- Finland: 54 in 10000 children
- Norway: 51 in 10000 children
- Netherlands: 48 in 10000 children
- Germany: 38 in 10000 children
- China: 23 in 10000 children
- Taiwan: 5 in 10000 children
- Poland: 3 in 10000 children
This estimation has been done in 2020. There are many reasons for these differences. These reasons could be population, education level, economical level, awareness of autism, and so on.
Sensorial Beneficial Products For Individuals with Autism on Amazon
Educational Insights Teachable Touchables Texture Squares, Sensory Toys
There are 20 different texture squares in this set in order to develop tactile awareness of children on the autism spectrum. This set is beneficial in two ways. They are activating tactile stimulation with its texture and getting attention with its vibrant colors. Children can easily hold those squares in their hands. They can learn to match as well. Overall, it is highly recommended by parents and educators. You will be very pleased with your purchase. https://www.amazon.com/Educational-Insights-Teachable-Touchables-Texture/dp/B000KI7C7G/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=Sensory+Toys+for+Special+Needs&qid=1596174863&sr=8-7
Temper Tamers In a Jar®: Helping Kids Cool Off and Manage Anger
There are 101 cards in this jar in order to help children who are age between 8 and 11 on the autism spectrum make themselves calmer. This set is a good way to teach them how to control their temper and how to express their emotions in a positive way. There are 4 main categories which are share, act, tips, and do. Children should play accordingly. It is a beneficial toy in order to make life easier for them. https://www.amazon.com/Temper-Tamers-Jar%C2%AE-Helping-Manage/dp/1575423596/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=Sensory+Toys+for+Special+Needs&qid=1596174863&sr=8-8
ArtCreativity Light Up Orbiter Spinning Wand
It has a shooting effect on children with autism. It gets their attention while the child is angry or anxious. Moreover, it has a vibration. This tactile stimulus is even more helpful to make them calm. It is highly recommended by parents and educators. Overall, especially with its affordable price, you will be very happy with your purchase. https://www.amazon.com/ArtCreativity-Spinning-Electronic-Batteries-Included/dp/B07D7GQFMZ/ref=sr_1_11?dchild=1&keywords=Sensory+Toys+for+Special+Needs&qid=1596174863&sr=8-11
Flag House Vibrating Pillow
Vibrating pillows have a deniable calming effect on individuals with autism. Even though it has a small size, the effect is huge. It is beneficial during stressful times. It is a high-quality product and definitely worth the money you are going to spend on. https://www.amazon.com/FLAGHOUSE-3466AMZ-Vibrating-Pillow/dp/B009QV0LG2/ref=sr_1_16?dchild=1&keywords=Sensory+Toys+for+Special+Needs&qid=1596174863&sr=8-16
Flag House Glitter Gel Lap Pad
These pads provide a calming effect and promote body awareness. They provide comforting pressure and tactile experience. Individuals on the autism spectrum feel more secure and calm thanks to its deep pressure. The size is also very good. It is not too short or too long. They are easy to carry, easy to store, and easy to clean. You will be very pleased with your purchase. https://www.amazon.com/Glitter-Gel-Lap-Pad-Medium/dp/B009QV0O96/ref=sr_1_39?dchild=1&keywords=Sensory%2BToys%2Bfor%2BSpecial%2BNeeds&qid=1596174863&sr=8-39&th=1