The thought has crossed my mind many a time in recent years. Why does it appear more children with additional needs, in particular autism, are coming through our child care centres?
Net working with other educators through social media recently, this very subject was brought up in a post. The poster suggested it could be the area her centre was in or circumstances of the families. Discussion brought about many other educators also saying they too had noticed the increase & we all were wondering why? It was suggested by one that we now have more understanding of ASD. Another wondered if it could be due to high amounts of chemicals & additives in foods. I wondered if it was due to an increase of parents’ age when having children, many people these days are waiting longer to settle down & starting families later in life.
I have been doing some research on this topic as the topic is of interest to me, due to noticing an increase in my own service of children with autism.
All of the children that are diagnosed and those who we suspect are all boys. Do boys suffer from autism more than girls? They are also from NESB families. Is there a higher incident of autism in children from developing countries?
My research has shown an increase of reported cases of ASD. In 1980 the rate was very rare, 4 in 10,000, compared to recent studies showing an increase to that of 1 in 50 children (Rende. R, 2013). This has been shown to be due to more awareness & knowing early warning signs, so that parents & carers are able to pick up developmental delays earlier. “Autism is a household word, you literally have to be living under a rock not to have heard of autism” (Bloudoff-Indericato. M, 2014).
Autism has been shown to be more common in boys, then girls- 1 in 52 boys & 1 in 252 girls. However studies have shown that mutations in DNA are more likely to be passed on from the mother, even if she is unaffected (Woerner. A, 2014).
Many developing countries actually report having a far lower incidents of ASD, 1 in 1000 in China (Maguine.C, 2013). So what is causing the difference between developed & developing countries? The answer is likely that there is better detection in developed countries. Families have more access to day-care, preschool etc. and therefore detection is happening earlier. There is more access to specialists that are familiar with the signs of Autism to be able to give the diagnosis.
In some developing countries such as South Korea for example the stigma of autism is so intense that many families with children who are displaying developmental delays will intentionally avoid diagnosis. Some common signs of ASD will be passed off as cultural norms such as discouraging eye contact in parts of East Asia or the male child is believed to speak later in Indian culture (Maguine.C, 2013).
So when parents bring their children to developed countries such as Australia, or they move here before having their children, it is more likely that their child will be diagnosed due to more knowledge & acceptance of ASD in Australia & other developed countries.
Rende. R, 2013 Red Hot Parenting Autism- why so common now? http://www.parents.com/blogs/red-hot-parenting/2013/04/01/health/why-is-autism-so-common-now/
Bloudoff-Indericato.M, 2014. National Geographic “increase: in childhood Autism, no cause for alarm:Experts http://news.nationalgeographic.com.au/news/2014/03/140328-autism-spectrum-disorder-rates-cdc-health-science/
Maguine. C, 2013 Harvard College- Global Health Review Autism on the rise: A global prospective http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/hghr/online/autism-on-the-rise-a-global-perspective/
Woerner. A, 2014 FoxNews.com Study reveals why Autism is more common in males http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/27/study-reveals-why-autism-is-more-common-in-males/