We’ve all heard that the incidence of autism is rising, with the CDC estimating that 1 in 110 kids now have the disorder.
But a study from UK researchers in the Archives of General Psychiatry today suggests that there may be no such thing as an “autism epidemic.” The team collected data on over 6,000 UK households and found reason to doubt that the incidence of autism has moved at all.
Here’s why their findings suggest the rate of autism is not going up:
In the population interviewed (roughly 6,500 UK families), nearly one percent of people over the age of 16 met criteria for an autism spectrum disorder — roughly equal to the childhood incidence. If people over 16 are just as likely to have autism as are younger kids, it means that there hasn’t been a true rise in the percentage of people with the disorder in the last decade.
Not surprisingly, though, many of the older people on the spectrum were unaware that they had autism. That’s consistent with the theory that the true incidence of autism isn’t going up at all — only the awareness and diagnosis of the disorder.
What do you think – is the rate of autism truly rising or are we just better at recognizing it?
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