A presentation looking at medical and other images of autism, from the perspective of having autism. This talk was first presented at Autism – from Adolescence to Adulthood, the Cork Association for Autism’s Irish Autism Forum in April 2013. This version was recorded at an Aspect meeting in June 2013.
Stuart Neilson, June 2013
An autism spectrum disorder was recorded in 711 acute hospital inpatient episodes per year over the 5-year period 2007-2011, with a gender ratio of 3:1 male:female. The trend was from 429 episodes in 2007 to 1,087 in 2011, a growth rate of 26% per year.
Childhood autism (72.3%) and Asperger syndrome (17.2%) were the most frequent autism spectrum disorders recorded. Autism spectrum disorder was the primary diagnosis in only 3.6% of episodes. The average length of stay was 23.5 days for people with Asperger syndrome and 8.9 days overall – it is probable that the longer stays for people with Asperger syndrome are associated with psychiatric in-patient care.
The direct cost of admissions due to autism as a primary diagnosis was €205,000 per year, with an indirect cost (including secondary diagnoses) of €5.6 million per year. These cost estimates are also rising at 26% per annum with increasing recognition of autism as a diagnosis. Economic cost estimates can not be causatively linked with autism, but may form a context in which to evaluate interventions that reduce hospital admission rates or increase quality of life for people with autism.