Friday, November 4, 2011

Autism Prevalence in Gothenburg Sweden

I haven't seen the full text of this one yet but it looks interesting.  The 0.80% is relatively close to what was found in the US 5 years ago but I have to wonder why it is so far below the more recent 2.64% estimate out of South Korea.

The Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Toddlers: A Population Study of 2-Year-Old Swedish Children
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is more common than previously believed. ASD is increasingly diagnosed at very young ages. We report estimated ASD prevalence rates from a population study of 2-year-old children conducted in 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Screening for ASD had been introduced at all child health centers at child age 21/2 years. All children with suspected ASD were referred for evaluation to one center, serving the whole city of Gothenburg. The prevalence for all 2-year-olds referred in 2010 and diagnosed with ASD was 0.80%. Corresponding rates for 2-year-olds referred to the center in 2000 and 2005 (when no population screening occurred) were 0.18 and 0.04%. Results suggest that early screening contributes to a large increase in diagnosed ASD cases.


Nygren G, Cederlund M, Sandberg E, Gillstedt F, Arvidsson T, Carina Gillberg I, Westman Andersson G, Gillberg C. The Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Toddlers: A Population Study of 2-Year-Old Swedish Children. J Autism Dev Disord. 2011 Nov 3. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22048962.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Autistics Speaking Day : Listen to the Silence

Today, November 1st, is "Autistics Speaking Day" and is supposed to be a day where people with autism tell the world what it is like to live with autism.  Today is supposed to be a day to raise awareness and acceptance of autism, to battle negative stereotypes about autism, and to advocate for the inclusion of "autistic" people in the community.  All of these things are laudable goals.

But today, in my ever so humble opinion, should not be remembered only for the voices that you do hear, but also for the voices that you don't.  Today, the voices you won't hear is the overwhelming majority of people with autism because autism has taken their ability to communicate.

There are no solid figures available, but by all accounts almost half of all people with autism never learn to talk.  Another ten to thirty percent will have rudimentary use of language but would not be able to carry on a typical conversation.  It is only a minority of people with autism who have the ability to communicate effectively with the world.  It is only the minority who are able to function in the world in spite of their autism.

So today, you will hear about the experiences and needs of a very vocal minority of people with autism.  And while these people do have worthwhile and important things to say, let's not forget that they tend not to speak for the needs of the silent majority.  In their rush to declare that autism is just a "difference" or a neurological diversity that needs acceptance rather than a cure, this group of vocal "autistics" tends to marginalize and ignore the needs of those who are profoundly disabled by their autism.

So today, while you are listening to the voices of the "autistics", don't forget to listen to the silence from the majority of people with autism who are unable to talk for themselves.