Category Archives: Statistics

Autism in print news

News media both reflect the reality and shape perceptions about autism. This is an overview of the portrayal of autism in printed news in Ireland and the UK, with downloadable data files of the references and keyword counts for anyone who wants to examine the data. Any feedback on the existing results or further analysis would be most welcome. (Please note that the text of the articles is not included.)

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Autism in Irish print news media

(see the update to this post https://wordpress.stuartneilson.com/autism-in-print-news)

News media both reflect and shape perceptions about autism. As an overview of the portrayal of autism in the news, I have searched for articles about autism and provide a downloadable data file of the references with some categories that also appear in the article. Any feedback on making the file useful to other people would be most welcome. Please note that the text of the articles is not included.

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Non-fiction on the autism spectrum

ASD-non-fictionThis is a brief post to note a collection of short reviews about non-fiction books about autism, relevant mostly to adolescents or adults who have a diagnosis. They include autobiography from Luke Jackson, Temple Grandin and Liane Holliday Willey; historical work from Uta Frith, Adam Feinstein and Steve Silberman; and practical intervention texts from Tony Attwood, Mohammed Ghaziuddin and Florica Stone.

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The value of labelling autism – Critical Perspectives 2014

Presentation at the 6th Annual Critical Perspectives Conference, 12 & 13th November 2014, University College Cork. The conference considers and explores:

  • the value and relevance of psychiatric diagnoses in understanding and responding to a wide range of human experiences of emotional distress
  • Critical perspectives on and creative responses beyond psychiatric diagnoses

Audio of the presentation (35 minutes, 11 MB):

PDF handout (6 slides per sheet, 3 sheets in total, 1.8 MB):
Stuart Neilson – The value of labelling (handout)

Online video: http://ucc.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=b41c413a-d375-4a81-b80c-fbc473b846fd

Briefing note: Episodes of inpatient activity attributable to autism spectrum disorder in Irish acute hospitals

Stuart Neilson, June 2013

Summary

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.

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Autism spectrum variants

Autism spectrum disorder includes autism (autistic disorder), pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and Rett syndrome.

In the United States, PDD-NOS is currently the most frequent diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (1). PDD-NOS will no longer be listed separately from autism spectrum disorder in DSM-5, bringing all diognoses within ASD.

The latest CDC prevalence report lists the following diagnostic breakdown (in Table 3):

Autistic – 1,158 (44%)
PDD-NOS – 1,230 (47%)
Asperger – 239 (9%)
TOTAL – 2,627

(1) Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008 Surveillance Summaries. March 30, 2012 / 61(SS03);1-19.

The prevalence of autism in Ireland

In a report from the National Council for Special Education (1), there are approximately 6,026 people aged 0-18 years with an autism spectrum disorder. This is based on a prevalence of 0.2% for autistic disorder and a prevalence of 0.36% for Asperger syndrome – a combined prevalence of 0.56% (or 1 in 178 children). This estimate would further imply a total of 26,000 people at all ages (0.56% of the population of 4.6 million in Ireland).

A recent estimate from the Centers for Disease Control (2) in the US gave a prevalence of 1.13% (or 1 in 88 children) who were professionally evaluated as having an autism spectrum disorder. This would equate to 52,000 people at all ages in the Irish population.

The most recent report from the CDC (3) gives a parent-reported prevalence of 2% (or 1 in 50), which would translate to 92,000 people in Ireland if the same prevalence applied at all ages within the Irish population.

The true prevalence in Ireland is unknown, but it seems reasonable to assume that the number of people with autism lies somewhere between 26,000 and 92,000 people, and probably around the middle estimate of around 52,000 people at all ages in Ireland. Of these, the number of children would be between 6,700 and 24,000, with a mid-point estimate of 13,600. (There were 4.6 million people in Ireland in 2012 (4), 1.2 million under 18 and 3.4 million over 18).

1. NCSE International Review of the Literature of Evidence of Best Practice Provision in the Education of Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Autism Centre for Education and Research, University of Birmingham. Principal Investigators, Dr. Sarah Parsons and Dr. Karen Guldberg.

2. CDC Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008 by Jon Baio.

3. CDC Changes in Prevalence of Parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged U.S. Children: 2007 to 2011–2012 by Stephen J. Blumberg, Matthew D. Bramlett, Michael D. Kogan, Laura A. Schieve, Jessica R. Jones, and Michael C. Lu.

4. CSO Population and Migration Estimates April 2012 (with revisions from April 2007 to April 2011)