Autism in Figures

I recently had the opportunity to exchange emails with Carolina Mesko, the content manager for the site  This organization has a group of staff members that did research to collect the latest factual information on autism.  The result was an infographic that I thought would be of great use to the readers of my blog. I, myself, already envision using it for PowerPoint presentations. According to Ms. Mesko the project was undertaken as an attempt to dispel a lot of speculation on autism and emphasize the impact the condition has on the affected individual, family and society in general. I was happy to receive permission to post the infographic on my blog. The only portion of the same that I would have modified is in reference to DAN doctors.  The designation was removed by the Autism Research Institute as some of their practices were proving controversial.  Also, the weight of the scientific evidence is heavily against a causative role for mercury in autism.The infographics is followed by the written material, including an interesting timeline on autism. The original link can be found at:

If size is an inconvenience, at least in my copy, I can double click on the infographic to make it bigger.


Autism 101: What We Know Today

Despite growing awareness and advances in treatment, this fast-growing developmental disorder has enormous personal, family, and economic impact – and no known cure.

– 1 in 50 children have an autism spectrum disorder
– At 10-17% annual growth in cases, it’s the fastest-growing developmental disability
– Effects 1 to 1.5 million Americans
– Symptoms appear by age 3
– 5x more prevalent in males
– $60 billion in annual costs, $3.2 million over an individual’s lifespan
– No known cure, but early treatment can help
– Surge in cases may be due to better diagnosis, wider awareness, and broader definitions

Autism Spectrum

– Autistic disorder – impairments of social interaction, communication and play, and restricted or repetitive interests and activities
– Asperger’s disorder – social interaction impairments and repetitive behavior, but usually without significant language delay
– Atypical autism – core autistic behaviors are present, but the criteria for autistic disorder are not fully met

Signs of Autism

– Impaired social interaction and communication
– Restricted and repetitive behavior, such as stacking or lining up objects

Symptoms of autistic disorder children age 1-3

– no babbling or pointing by age 1
– no single words by 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
– no response to name
– loss of language or social skills
– poor eye contact
– excessive lining up of toys or objects
– no smiling or social responsiveness

Autism and Adulthood

– Increasingly, parents are seeking help as their child transitions to late teenage and adult years
– Challenges include education, living arrangements, supervised day care, and more
– Young adults may qualify academically for college, but can’t cope with other aspects of college life

«Adults face discrimination that comes from a lack of understanding about autism. The tolerance that is extended to children with autism is often lacking.» – Pamela Dixon Thomas, PhD, LP, psychologist with the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC)

Science of Autism

– Neurodevelopmental disorder
– Strong basis in genetic mutation
– Evidence for environmental causes such as vaccines, foods, and heavy metals is anecdotal, but extensive studies are underway

Autism and the Family

– Marital stress: 80% divorce rate in families with children who have autism
– Lack of rest due to difficulty in finding child care
– Challenges involving diagnosis, services, adolescence, and post high school
– Siblings may develop a greater sense of responsibility, or may feel resentment at the extra attention the child with autism receives «Having a child with Autism can mess with your head: You feel like you can move mountains for them yet you’re powerless at the same time.» – Stuart Duncan Treatment
– Educational/behavioral interventions targeting social and language skills and family counseling for parents and siblings of children with autism
– Medications including those to treat anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive behavior; in severe cases, antipsychotic medications

Controversial treatments

– Chelation – attempts to eliminate metals such as mercury from the body (a potentially hazardous medical procedure)
– DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) – includes nutritional supplements, gluten-free diet, treatment for allergies and intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth «When living with a neurological condition (or with a loved one who has one), it can be very easy to focus on the challenges and limitations. But in my life, I have found that focusing on abilities, finding new ways to adapt, have been crucial to my successes in life. Seeking those solutions can even be seen as a form of creativity.» – Lynne Soraya (nom de plume for a writer with Asperger’s Syndrome)

Significant Findings from Recent Studies

– High-quality early intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can do more than improve behaviors, it can improve brain function.
– Being nonverbal at age 4 does not mean children with autism will never speak. According to research, most will, in fact, learn to use words, with half learning to speak fluently.
– Though autism tends to be life long, some children with ASD make so much progress that they no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. High quality early-intervention may be key.


– 1943 – Dr. Leo Kanner publishes a paper about a condition he calls «early infantile autism»
– 1966 – A British Study estimates the rate of autism in at .04%
– 1967 – Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim promotes a theory that «refrigerator mothers» cause autism
– 1977 – Studies of twins reveal autism as a largely genetic disorder
– 1980 – «Infantile autism» listed as a distinct disorder in the DSM
– 1987 – Psychologist Ivar Lovaas publishes a study showing positive effects of intensive therapy
– 1988 – «Rain Main,» starring Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant
– 1991 – At federal prompting, schools begin identifying and serving autistic students
– 1994 – Asperger’s disorder is recognized, expanding the autism spectrum to include milder cases
– 1997 – National Institutes of Health Autism Coordinating Committee launches
– 1998 – A Lancet study suggests that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism (later debunked)
– 1999 – California reports 12,000 autism cases, an increase of more than 200% in a decade
– 2005 -Autism Speaks founded – now the world’s largest autism advocacy group
– 2007 – Autism Centers for Excellence launches, coordinated by the NIH/ACC
– 2009 – The CDC estimates that 1 in 110 children have autism spectrum disorders, up from 1 in 150 in 2007


4 Respuestas a “Autism in Figures

  1. I think Ms. Mesko does a good job defining classic autism but not the regressive autism my son (and, unfortunately, 100s of thousands of others) have. No one employs ARI biomedical interventions right away. Even the best behavioral interventions did not work for my son and he was chronically ill. Only ARI trained doctors knew how to treat my son’s immune and GI dysfunction. Mesko is leaving out too many children in her autism profile.

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  2. You bring up a good point. I think that they were trying to follow DSM criteria. It is a pity that regressive autism is not the subject of as much research as it deserves. There are disagreements with the nomenclature (e.g., regressive vs. acquired), defining how to measure regression, finding good studies defining prevalence for the regressive type, etc. Regression in autism should be the focus of more studies.

    Overall, I thought there was good data in the infographics for presentations geared towards raising awareness. I am using the same for PowerPoints as I go to different schools or parent support organizations.

    As an aside, I posted the link to reddit. You may find it of interest that the comments from the autism forum questioned the increased prevalence (over the last couple of decades), the gender bias, and the financial burden. I never expected the comments coming from an autism forum.

    Thank you again for your comments.

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  3. Hello,

    My name is Nancy and I run the content department here at My team has just published a really useful resource titled: 101 Noteworthy Sites on Asperger’s and the Autism Spectrum. To view our article follow the link provided:

    Our mission at is to help educate people on the needs of children and adults enrolled in special needs education classes. We want to share our resource with you because your readers may benefit from it, and we believe it would make great content for your site.

    Feel free to share the list with your readers. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks and have a wonderful day.


    Nancy Klein
    Content Editor

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  4. Pingback: A Graphic on Vaccines and Autism | Cortical Chauvinism·

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