Pedro PereiraPosted on Thu Oct 5
I was invited by HAYMAN-WOODWARD to write about autism. As a father of a child on the spectrum, when I decided to move with my family, my top priority was to find the most suitable place or country to raise my child. I wanted to know where he would receive the necessary support and understand the pros and cons in general.
When you live with a child on the spectrum, you start to notice several things. Everything we focus on tends to expand. So, in every place I visit, in every country and city, I observe how it would be for my child. This applies to restaurants, squares, and parks.
You’ve probably noticed that autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has gained prominence in recent years. But is there really an increase in the number of children on the spectrum, or has the diagnosis become more accessible? I’ll explain further.
Remember that schoolmate who was a bit different, who didn’t communicate well or had their own rhythm, and you liked to tease them? Well, that child was autistic and most likely had not been diagnosed, and consequently, they didn’t receive the necessary help. It wasn’t the fault of the parents or the family; often, they didn’t even know that autism existed. When I explained to my grandmother that my child was special, it took her a while to understand because he apparently had nothing wrong with him. And that’s exactly where our conversation begins.
I make it a point to be present in my child’s therapies and interact with other parents and children. I can say with conviction that out of over 75 million people diagnosed with autism worldwide, none of them has the same needs as another. Autism is unique, and how it manifests depends on how the person can adapt to their situation. In other words, individualized training is necessary.
Interventions and therapies are essential for children and adults on the spectrum to perform their activities more efficiently and learn to adapt, working on their limitations such as rigidity, sensory sensitivity, and speech.
One of the main reasons we decided to immigrate was precisely to ensure better interventions, support, and accessibility for our child. We gathered information while spending time in the US in 2022 and explored all the possibilities, everything we could access (or not), and concluded that it was the best decision to provide a more inclusive environment.
Things that often go unnoticed by parents of typical children, such as safe and fenced parks where you can take your child to play safely, are crucial for us.
Before anything else, I would like to say that this article is based on my research. As an introduction, I will present some statistics to explain why it is important to understand more about autism.
How Many People Have Autism?
In 2023, the CDC reported that about 1 in 36 children in the United States is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Key Autism Statistics and Facts:
1. According to the CDC, about 1% of the world’s population has Autism Spectrum Disorder – more than 75 million people.
2. In 2022, 1 in every 100 children was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
3. In 2023, the CDC reported that about 1 in 36 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism.
4. The prevalence of autism has increased by 178% since 2000.
5. The country with the highest rate of diagnosed autism in the world is Qatar, and the country with the lowest rate is France.
6. About 4 times as many boys are diagnosed with autism as girls.
7. The rate of autism in the United States went from 1 in 150 in 2000 to 1 in 100 in 2022.
8. The state with the highest rate of diagnosed autism is Florida.
9. The state with the lowest rate of diagnosed autism is Texas.
10. About 75% of autistic adults are not employed, but that number rises to 85% for autistic adults who have received a degree.
11. About 40% of autistic children are nonverbal, so finding nonverbal methods of communication is crucial.
12. About 78% of autistic children have another mental health condition, with more than one-fourth of autistic children also having ADHD.
13. About 80% of autistic children also experience some delay in their motor skills, like walking or holding a pencil to write.
14. Almost 50% of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job.
15. Most of autism’s costs in the United States are for adult services. Specifically, around $175 to $196 billion per year for adults and $61 to $66 billion per year for children.
16. Medical expenditures for children and adolescents with autism were 4.1 to 6.2 times greater than for those without autism, on average.
The CDC states that autism occurs across all socioeconomic, ethnic, and racial groups.
• Autism’s diagnostic criteria expanded throughout the 1980s and 1990s, which led to a much higher rate of diagnosis.
The economic impact of autism involves multiple different factors. Studies show that it costs about $60,000 per year for a parent to raise an autistic child. This accounts for things like medical costs, prescription costs, therapists, accommodations, special education, and time taken off work.
As a general rule, the more infrastructure there is to support autistic people, the lower the cost will be for care per person. For example, a school with a robust special education program will spend less on educating an autistic child than a school that has to create an entire program, hire new personnel, and buy resources from scratch.
• About 40% of children with autism don’t speak, so finding methods of nonverbal communication is crucial.
• Many autistic people are diagnosed and receive familial and educational support before the age of 5.
Autism has been present throughout all of history, but it has only begun being diagnosed over the past century. We hope these autism statistics have provided a broader understanding of autism in the world!
This is the first article in a series where I will explore what life is like for people on the spectrum in different parts of the world, discussing what is available, what is not, what is paid or free, and what innovations are available. In the next article, we will look at Autism in Brazil, my home country, where I have been raising my child until now.