Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are really taking its toll on these 11 countries with the highest rates of autism in the world. One of the most prevalent development disorders in the world is making a huge impact on people’s lives and despite ever growing number of diagnosed children, nothing resembling a cure is in the sight. Your best bet on learning most about autism is to check out this one of the best selling books on autism on Amazon Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition.
The earliest mention of autism like behavior goes back to 16th-century church reformer Martin Luther. The term itself was coined in 1910 by Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, to describe the behavior of some of his patients. But it wasn’t until 1938 that autism was first studied in depth and the word came to its modern meaning. Hans Asperger used it to describe a type of ASD we know today as Asperger syndrome.
It still isn’t clear what causes autism. There are several theories, but none of them is definitely proven. The prevalence of autism is on the alarming rise, with some studies suggesting the increase of 10% to 17% annually in the last several years. Also, autism is far more likely to affect boys than girls, a fact that is still unexplained. In the United States alone, it is believed that 1 in 68 boys and 1 in 189 girls are suffering from it. That represents a tenfold rise in the past 40 years. To be honest, the definition of autism and autism spectrum disorder is still changing to include more and more symptoms, so that accounts for at least some of the increase. Some experts suggest that a large number of children with autism today would be diagnosed with learning disabilities or even mental retardation just 10 years ago.
Some countries with highest autism rates in the world are among the most developed countries in the world. There are studies that have tried to use this fact to explain the autism prevalence in them, arguing that as people are getting more familiar with autism, its symptoms are easier to detect. This would explain the huge differences in autism rates among the US states, ranging from 121 cases in 10,000 people in Arizona and Missouri to 60 in Alabama and 42 in Florida. Coincidently, the states with the highest autism rates are also the ones with the best-developed facilities to deal with it, which begs the question what is older, chicken or the egg. Some of the countries on our list are also present on the list of 11 countries with the best healthcare in the world.
China is another example of this, with official autism rate of 16.9 cases per 10,000 people, but as autism awareness increases, so does the number of diagnosed children and many experts believe that Chinese rates are on par with the rest of the world, but are simply undiagnosed.
This theory fails to explain the low autism prevalence in countries like France, with 5 cases in 10,000 people or Germany, with just 1.9. Germany’s neighbor Denmark has an autism rate of 68 cases in 10,000 people, which is a staggering difference. Another problem is that autism tests can be somewhat misleading. For instance, specificities of Korean language and its numerous suffixes determining the exact relationship between the speaker and subject are often leading to children being misdiagnosed with autism, while in reality kids are just having a hard time memorizing all of them and their exact meaning.
Despite autism awareness being on the rise, studies on prevalence are somewhat lacking. For instance, there are no official statistics for autism rates in Russia, since autism as diagnose have been accepted less than a decade ago. Some of the studies used to create this list are as old as 10 years, but they represent the only available data we have on the subject. Despite being limited in scope and mostly localized, experts do believe that they represent a good insight into the autism rates around the world. Let’s see which countries are the most affected ones.