Not good news
I began to gather statistics regarding autism a while ago. Sources and quotes seemed to vary widely but soon I realized that until quite recently there have only been a few studies regarding autistic struggles, and that most of the statistics quoted before 2015 or so were more likely to be using old information and only pertaining to young people or children. Statistics quoted here are still canted toward younger populations. Many autistic adults never reach the age of 60.
I have multiple sources for all the statistics quoted here, and when there have been drastic differences in the numbers reported, I have attempted to understand why and attempted to figure out which was most correct.
I have attempted to find actual studies instead of just quoting somebody else’s quotes from a lecture, blog, presentation, book, or article in print.
I believe that due to the hidden factor of the lost generation of older adults without diagnosis, the statistics are still probably skewed.
As our understanding of autism grows, so will the precision behind collected statistics.
Consider this at best, an “educated guess” using information available on the internet and in multiple recent reference books.
Reports and study results are accruing, these numbers are definitely not static.
Considering that these statistics are probably under reported, they are staggering in the implications. Something to think about. What can we do to lessen the impact of autism on those who must live with it?
It is perhaps easy for those of us ( autistic folk) who live independent lives close to the mainstream, who speak and write easily, who have a support system and access to accommodations to say , ” I do not have a disability, I simply have a different operating system”. Lucky us! We are in the very small minority of autistic folk so “gifted”.
These statistics give the lie to those who trumpet autism as a gift and who would become angry over people who search to find ways to alleviate the suffering and dangers that their dis-similarly
“gifted” autistic brothers and sisters deal with every day.
Consider these statistics:
Autism as it is understood today will affect between one and two people out of a hundred. –
35 percent of those with autism will have intellectual impairment
40 percent of those with autism have epilepsy or other forms of seizures
The average age of death for an autistic person without intellectual impairment is 54 years. Leading cause of death is heart disease, followed by suicide and seizures.
Suicide risk is 9 times that of the neuro-typical population, and risk of suicide is higher among women.
The average age of death of those with intellectual impairment is 39.5 years .
Factors in these terrible statistics seem to be worse overall health and likely complications of co- morbid health issues, poorer health care and poor self reporting of health issues due to impaired communication abilities. Higher incidence of seizures also is reported to be a contributing factor.
Children with autism are 40 times as likely as their neurotypical peers to die of injury before their 7th birthday. Most common deaths in this autistic age group are drowning, and suffocation.
Up to 40 percent of autistic people are non verbal, another 20 percent struggle with speech. This means + /- 60 percent of autistic folk have very strong impairments in every day ability to speak.
Add this to the wakening awareness that there is a high percentage of autistic people in jail. 30 percent of jail populations are reported to have intellectual disabilities.
( this covers all forms of intellectual disabilities, not just those who might be autistic) There is a very recent movement to try to uncover hidden autism in incarcerated populations. I applaud this work and hope to learn more as information becomes available.
I will sum this information up by saying that I believe the statistics being gathered today will be more accurate and those of tomorrow, hopefully even more so.
The reporting of statistics for the group designated “autistic” is in its infancy.
I feel it is important to our understanding of autism to see clearly how it effects us as a group.
To know these statistics, to know the impact of autism on so many individuals, is the first step to begin to take action to help in the places it is needed the most.