What is autism for an autistic person? It’s an innate condition they have to learn how to live with the best way they can. What is autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to the rest of the world? It’s usually “someone else’s problem” and the majority are poorly educated about it. This is an unfortunate fact, as we are the ones who have excellent cognitive skills and are able to process information and interact properly. That’s why we have prepared the following autism statistics for all of us.

Admit it, there are plenty of questions about autism you would like to see answered. Is it hereditary, or triggered by vaccines? Is there any cure? What are the autism employment rates? And last but not least, is there an epidemic of autism at the moment? You’re just about to find out.

Here’s a brief preview of the information awaiting you:

The Top 10 Facts & Statistics on Autism

  • Vaccines do not trigger autism.
  • ASD rates have increased in the US by 15% according to the CDC biannual report.
  • Autism is 4 times more frequent among boys than girls.
  • ASD is not restricted to any race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group.
  • 44% of children with autism have an average or above-average IQ.
  • Autism is becoming a huge economic burden as it will cost $461 billion by 2025.
  • Globally, 1 in 160 children is diagnosed with an ASD.
  • Nonverbal autism appears in one-third of people who suffer from ASD.
  • Israeli studies show promising results for marijuana and autism in the short term.
  • AI is already proving to be a great autism aid.

 Now, let’s get to know the disorder better and get ready to help those living with it.

Basic Autism Facts 

1. Autism is not a single disorder, but a whole spectrum.

(Autism Science Foundation)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes a wide range of neurological disorders that have a detrimental effect on cognitive, social, and communicative functions. Autistic people tend to avoid eye contact, have difficulties in listening and following conversations, and so on. On the other hand, they may have outstanding mathematical skills or above-average IQs.

2. The word autism was first used in 1908 to describe schizophrenic patients.

(Parents)

The list of historic facts about autism is very brief if we observe it from the point when the disorder was scientifically defined. From being mistaken for schizophrenia and terms such as “early infantile autism” to the latest (and most precise) definition of autism spectrum disorder from 2013, which includes Asperger’s Syndrome.

3. Vaccines do not trigger autism.

(WHO)

A distinction has to be made between autism facts and myths. Research proves vaccines do not cause ASD, despite the panic which was induced about the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine in the US and Japan. As a matter of fact, fear of autism was named as reason number one why American parents did not let their children receive the vaccine.

4. Level 1 autism is the least severe.

(MedicalNewsToday)

There are three levels of ASD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). Level 1 individuals need some support and usually benefit a lot from behavioral therapy. Level 2 need more support and have bigger social deficits, while Level 3 avoid interactions and are prone to reacting strongly to changes.

5. Autism stats show the average age of autism disorder to be diagnosed is 4 years old.

(CDC)

This is extremely late if one is aware that the earlier a child is diagnosed, the higher the chances of them getting better. Admittedly, certain disorders from the spectrum (e.g. autistic disorder) are diagnoses sooner than the others. Parents usually notice suspicious changes (or rather lack of developmental changes) in their child’s first year. Motor skill differences are noticeable from 6 months. 

6. Interesting facts about autism: levels of autism are not restricted to any race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group.

(CDC)

In the USA, there are only slight differences concerning autism rates among white, black, and Hispanic children. The first group seems to have a higher percentage of autism cases. However, the discrepancies have reduced in the last years, so perchance it has more to do with reaching out to minority communities and revealing autism cases.

7. Autism is often accompanied by a plethora of disorders and illnesses.

(Spectrum News)

They don’t fall under the autism spectrum disorder definition as they can vary greatly. Statistics about autism report a child with ASD may also have sleep disorders, epilepsy, ADHD, OCD, depression, obesity, and so on.

8. Genetics is the main cause of autism.

(Mayo Clinic)

Genetic disorders and mutations can influence the brain and consequently cause serious issues. Some changes may be hereditary, while others are spontaneous. Common environmental factors include preterm births or older parents.

The Most Important US and Global Autism Statistics

Autism Statistics - US stats

9. Globally, 1 in 160 children is diagnosed with an ASD.

(WHO)

At first glance, it seems that the developed countries have the highest levels of ASD disorders. However, as there is no uniform diagnostic test for diagnosing a person as autistic or not, a lot depends on the overall quality of the country’s healthcare system.

10. Autism rates have increased in the US by 15%.

(Autism Speaks) (Disability Scoop)

CDC autism statistics report 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism today (1.5 million), whereas the previous biannual report ratio was 1 in 64. The rates have been rising steadily since 2006 when the numbers were much lower (1 in 166).

Why is autism increasing at such a rapid rate? The answer may be that it is only the recognition methods that have improved, not the rates.

11. One of the most disturbing facts on autism is that people with autism usually die at 36.

(CNN)

For the general population, the average age is 72. Therefore, autistic people live two times shorter. The injury rates are also shocking – autistic children have 40 times higher chances of dying from an injury. 

12. The USA has the highest autism rates by country.

(Statista)

There are 168 ASD children cases per 100,000 people. Other countries in the top ten list are Japan, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, and Portugal.

13. Autism is becoming a huge economic burden as it will cost $461 billion by 2025.

(Statista)

Financial stats on autism show the costs of ASD are expected to go much higher than they were in 2015. That year, $268 billion were spent on productivity, medical, and non-medical costs. The majority of the funds are used for adult services.

14. Up to 40% of people who have ASD struggle with anxiety.

(NAS)

Is autism a mental illness? No, but autistic people have a much higher chance of suffering from mental disorders and other diseases. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and depression are extremely frequent.

15. Autism statistics worldwide: intellectual disability is present in 50%.

(WHO)

Having a low IQ (lower than 70) is not obligatory if one is diagnosed with autism. Intellectual impairment varies from one case to another. Some even have astounding cognitive skills. In the US, the percentage of children with a mental disability is 31%.

16. Autism is 4 times more frequent among boys than girls.

(CDC) (Autism Speaks)

Autism statistics from 2018 tell us 1 in 37 boys is diagnosed as opposed to 1 in 151 girls. This may partially be due to the fact that autism in girls is sometimes more difficult to define. Girls tend to be more aware of their disabilities and consequently try to hide them. The interpretation of classic, traditional social roles is an obstacle, too.

17. Drowning is the cause of death in 90% of cases for children with autism who are 14 or younger. 

(Autism Speaks)

Taking care of a child with autism is extremely demanding. If you look at an autism facts sheet, it appears 50% of children with autism tend to wander, which oftentimes ends in accidents. About 28% of 8-year-olds are prone to self-injuring incidents such as head banging, arm biting, or skin scratching. 

18. Nonverbal autism appears with one-third of people who suffer from ASD.

(Autism Speaks)

Problems in communication are probably one of the reasons why almost two-thirds of such children have experienced some form of bullying between the ages of 6 and 15.

19. Epilepsy is present in 30% of people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

(ScienceDaily)

Autism statistics show about 30% are struggling with different forms of epilepsy (focal, generalized, both, or an unclear form). Even worse, epileptic seizures damage the neurological pathways responsible for socialization, which is already impaired in ASD people. Similarly, epileptic patients can show ASD-like behavior.

20. New Jersey tops autism statistics by state with the highest percentage of autistic children: 2.9%.

(NBC News) (Healthline)

1 in 46 children is diagnosed with the disorder. In contrast, Alabama is at the bottom of the list with 1 in 175. However, as there are little chances of something in New Jersey causing an ASD in children, the discrepancy is once again attributed to poor diagnosis.

21. 35% of teenagers diagnosed with ASD go to college.

(MarketWatch)

Sadly, their employment prospects aren’t much favorable despite college education. Autism employment statistics show 85% of those who are college grads do not have a job, as opposed to 4.5% of their colleagues who aren’t diagnosed. 

22. Two-thirds of autism lifelong care costs could be spared by early diagnosis and treatment.

(Autism Society)

According to the US autism statistics, the country spends about $2.4 million per autistic person during their life if they have an intellectual disability. The person who has ASD but is intellectually able costs the country almost half as much ($1.4 million).

23. 44% of children with autism have an average or above-average IQ.

(Towards Data Science)

Therefore, it is completely wrong to immediately assume a person suffering from autism is intellectually challenged. Almost 50% of them have great intellect, but they lack social, communication or behavior skills.

Autism Treatment Facts and Stats

Autism Statistics - Treatment

24. Israeli studies show promising results for marijuana and autism in the short term.

(Healthline)

Medical cannabis is legal in Israel and a 6 months’ study gained a lot of publicity. 30% of the treated had very improved symptoms, and 50% showed moderate progress. The feedback was collected from parents of 188 teenagers with ASD. The long-term results are yet to be obtained.

25. About 53% of children with ASD had their anxiety symptoms improved after using CBD oil.

(Remedy Review)

We are still waiting for more official research, but in the meantime, testimonials about CBD oil for autism are swarming the internet. According to a survey, almost 60% of the kids were in an overall better mood. 40% had better sleep and appetite, too.

26. A special diet is vital as a part of autism treatment.

(Autism Research Institute) (Amen Clinics)

There isn’t a unique diet prescribed for those with autism, but it has been noted that certain foods (or the lack of them) have a great impact. Generally, gluten, artificial ingredients, corn, sugar, and dairy (casein) are said to worsen the symptoms. In addition, autism stats show children with ASD often need more vitamins and supplements.

27. Only two medications for autism are FDA approved: Risperidone and Aripiprazole.

(Autism Speaks)

They are intended for reducing irritability caused by autism. However, that is not their sole purpose. They are also used for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

28. Epidiolex is likely to be prescribed as one of the medications for autism for epileptic seizures.

(GW Pharmaceuticals)

As we have already mentioned, epilepsy and autism are often connected. Epidiolex is the only drug containing CBD which is approved by the FDA. That supports the claims that CBD for autism is beyond useful. 

29. A cure for autism does not exist, but that doesn’t mean it’s untreatable.

(NIH)

Every person with autism needs assistance in one way or the other to live their lives better. It is of utmost importance to start with the treatments as soon as possible. They may include medication, behavioral, psychological, educational, or skill-building therapies. Joining a clinical study is also encouraged by the National Institute of Mental Health.

30. AI is already proving to be a great autism aid according to autism statistics from 2019.

(Towards Data Science)

The latest autism news isn’t about the rates, but about high-tech gadgets enabling people with the disorder to function better. For instance, QTrobot is a humanoid robot designed to help children in learning social skills. Empower Me smart glasses interpret other people’s reactions, and also gives feedback on the anxiety or stress levels of the ASD person wearing them.

Conclusion

To summarise, the autism spectrum disorder is quite, well, a spectrum. The exact reasons why it occurs are not known, just like it is hard to predict in what way an individual is going to show progress or be set back. 

The latest autism statistics report there has been a significant increase in autism cases, but we can take this as a good sign. Chances are that more children are properly diagnosed. As a result, the therapies will start on time, which is essential for ASD treatment.

Cannabis and autism seem to have a bright future together, and artificial intelligence is being employed in the treatment. With good diagnoses and innovations, we can only hope for the best.

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