4 Real Reasons Why Autism Has Become So Prevalent in Recent Years
Autism has become more prevalent recently. Rates went from 1 in 150 children to 1 in 68 over the course of a little over 15 years.
Why is there more autism now than in 2000? There are many myths out there about autism. Most of them come from people misunderstanding the statistics.
The higher numbers do not necessarily mean that we have more of a problem. Most of the increase is probably because we understand, track and define childhood autism better than we did before.
That said, this is a complicated issue. A close look at the research methods and the disease itself shows the following four reasons for the increase:
- Biological factors
- Improving research methods
- Changing disease definitions
- Increasing awareness of ASDs in medical professionals and childcare providers
Biology is significant. Specifically, children are twice as likely to show signs of autism if their fathers are over 50 years old. There is four times the risk of autism for children of fathers over 55.
Premature babies also have a relatively high chance of showing signs of autism and, unfortunately, various other diseases and disorders. Since older fathers are having children and more premature babies are surviving, we can show that these factors account for some of the increase in prevalence.
However, older fathers and premature births are not proven causes of autism. They simply have a higher correlation with it.
Improving Research Methods
The way we collect our autism data matters. Why? When we talk about prevalence, we are really talking about prevalence data. Getting more accurate information doesn’t change the problem or create it — it just helps us define it better.
Recent numbers come from more exhaustive studies. Again, this simply defines the problem.
Changing Disease Definitions
Autism prevalence depends on the official definition of the disorder. When that definition changes, so does the prevalence of autism.
As we collect more information about ASDs, it is reasonable to assume that we will define them more precisely. This is part of the work of autism therapy — gathering evidence so that we can better understand and treat our patients.
Increasing Awareness of ASDs
The final factor that increases autism prevalence is knowledge. The people responsible for reporting information simply know what to look for now. This helps them accurately identify more children with the early signs of autism, such as self-stimulation, lack of eye contact, and so on.
Looking Towards the Future
As we move towards universal screening of young children for autism, we will start to develop a more comprehensive, accurate view of this health crisis. You can be a part of that by bringing your child into an autism specialist for a checkup, even if there are no symptoms present.
The sooner you start, the more likely your child is to have a favorable outcome. For questions about Phoenix ABA therapy enrollment availability, recent diagnosis, or anything else regarding autism, please feel free to contact us directly.