An 'epidemic of autism' seems to be taking place as increasing number of children and adults have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to a new study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) has reported that compared to the 1in 10,000 children having autism in the past, it is now 1 in 110 children in the US who has been diagnosed with the disorder.
The recent study, Epidemiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Adults in the Community in England
reveals that one percent of Britons, over 16 years, have an autism spectrum disorder.
Out of a group of 2,828, 19 participants in the study had ASDs, which corresponds to 9.8 per 1,000 adults. Autism was found to be more common among men than women. Lack of educational qualifications and living in rented social (government-financed) housing seemed to be crucial factors in those having autism. Those found to be autistic did not make increased use of services for mental health problems. The study also discovered that those diagnosed with an ASD had not previously been aware of their condition.
Dr. Traolach Brugha, a psychiatrist at the University of Leicester, has said that the results are a "surprise to all of us," although he sees no reason to doubt the findings. But he does recommend further study to be done. It is surprising because a disorder that appeared to be rare has become so common.
One of the reasons behind this is the change that has taken place in the diagnostic criteria for autism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). With more understanding of the spectrum of the disorder, more people are being helped to be identified as having variations of autism.
Deinstitutionalization of mental disorders and a change in cultural perceptions have also played a part in helping the condition to come out of hiding and be ready to face an increased awareness and assistance.