Over 20 years ago, an old friend told me a bit of heartbreaking news. A friend of his had a child who had been diagnosed with an uncommon condition that almost guaranteed his child would end up in jail or dead.
It almost knocked me off my chair when he said this ‘uncommon, one-way-to-jail or the morgue’ condition was autism.
I quickly gave him some alternative scenarios along with a few websites and organizations to check out.
The pediatrician’s information, or whoever it was who misinformed the young couple, was not only erroneous, it was harmful. That couple sounded like they had, incorrectly, already resigned themselves to a lifetime of pain.
Such cruelty to the parents and the child.
Yes, there are lots of conditions that are often related to being on the spectrum. But let’s not jump to conclusions and needlessly mentally incarcerate a child who needs our help now and in the future.
I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
(Ironic. This article started by looking at Canadian stats and here I quote two famous Americans (by the way, Canada is also in North America and so by extension are Americans, as are people from Central and South America. Americans should be called something like Statesians 😄)
Autism Statistics for Canada
- One in 66 children and youth (5-17 years old) are diagnosed with ASD (1/66 or 1.5/100 or 1.5% of the population).
- Males were diagnosed four times more frequently than females (aged 5-17 years old):
- Male: 1 in 42 have ASD
- Female: 1 in 165
- Please note: that doesn’t necessarily mean it occurs more often in males. It could be that it’s undiagnosed in females because their symptoms are less disruptive or haven’t been researched as well and their symptoms aren’t verified.
- At what age are children and youth with ASD typically diagnosed?
- 56% were diagnosed by the time they are 6 years old
- 72% were diagnosed by the time they are 8
- Less than 10% were diagnosed after 12
General Information on Comorbid Conditions (Cormorbidity - the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions)
Individuals with ASD have higher comorbidities for illnesses/conditions than the general population.
- Seizures (25-40% of ASD individuals)
- Mental health issues (85%)
- Anxiety (11-40%)
- Depression (7-26%)
- Bipolar disorder
- ADHD (30-61%)
- Schizophrenia (4-35%)
- Gastrointestinal disorders (8x more likely than the general population)
- Intellectual disabilities
- Auditory disorders
- Ear and respiratory infections
- Cardiac disorders
- Severe headaches
- Sleep disorders (50-80%)
- Obesity (30%)
- Self-injurious behaviour, such as head banging, arm biting and skin scratching (study group - 8-year-olds with ASD)
- More likely to wander or bolt. 90% of deaths related to wanderings are due to drowning for those 14 and under.
- Due to the medical comorbidities, mortality is also higher in ASD individuals compared to the general population (3-10 times higher).
- Violence is rare in autism but there have been cases of criminal behavior. Most often that behaviour was the result of cumulative stress.
- ASD individuals are more likely to be victims of crime.
- Bullying - 95% with Asperger’s syndrome are victims of bullying
- Autism and addiction
- There is a low prevalence of substance use in people with autism.
- However, some addictive behaviour, such as gaming and gambling seems to occur at a higher rate than the general population. This may be a coping strategy to deal with increased levels of anxiety.
- The lifetime costs of autism averages $1.4 million to $2.4 million based on an Autism Speaks-funded study (remember though, it is a spectrum of disorders from severe to independent living).
- A child on the spectrum averages an extra $8,600 per year to educate. HOWEVER . . .
- That cost, based on a British study, could be REDUCED by TWO-THIRDS through early diagnosis and intervention. The cost saving would be ongoing after they left school.
- Young adults with autism spectrum disorder have limited career options. Less than 50% are in post-secondary school or employed two years after high school.
Interesting point: It’s supposed that Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, and Bill Gates were/are on the spectrum.
Humorous point: What do you call a large gathering of people on the spectrum? Silicon Valley.
Useful point: Sleep is not only essential; it is often an issue for those on the spectrum (20-80% as mentioned above). Some people do very well with a weighted blanket. Our luxury blankets, as one client called them, are cozy and comforting. Check out our wide variety of colours.
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