15 Shocking Autism Statistics Worldwide You Probably Didn’t Know

15 Shocking Autism Statistics Worldwide You Probably Didn’t Know

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As parents, nothing can be scarier than finding out there is something “wrong” with our child.

In reality, autism shows up very differently from child to child. It rarely manifests itself the same way. Thus parents of autistic kids often feel very alone and isolated, even in today’s electronically-connected world.

But there is comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

There is also comfort in knowing that many others have faced the challenges you face and come out on top. Even better is there are a lot of people with solutions making the world a better place for autistic kids and their parents.

In this post, we’re going to look at autism rates by country and autism statistics worldwide so you can see just how not alone you truly are.

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Autism Rates Worldwide – Countries with the highest rates of autism spectrum disorder

As you can see in our autism rates worldwide chart, courtesy of statista.com, Japan, by far, has the highest rates of autism.

In fact, Japan is almost double the #2 country which is the UK.  From that point, the next several countries are all fairly close. Those are Sweeden, Denmark, the United States, and Canada.

Statistic: Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children in select countries worldwide as of 2017 (per 10,000 children) | Statista
The immediate takeaway here is that autism rates by country are obviously higher in the so-called developed world and much lower in the so-called 3rd world countries.

Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands round out the list of countries with the lowest autism rates worldwide according to InsiderMonkey.

Autism statistics worldwide by gender

According to a recent study by The National Autistic Society, among the autistic adults they studied, they found a ratio of 3 men to 1 woman. But with the children they studied, they found a much higher ratio of 5 boys to 1 girl.

The CDC has found that boys are 4 times more likely to have autism spectrum disorder than girls.

One of the first people to study autism, Hans Asperger, originally thought that autism spectrum disorder only affected boys. He did later revise his findings though. But clearly, rates of autism do affect boys much more than girls.

Asperger was a pediatrician in Austria in the years leading up to World War II.

Asperger syndrome was named for him by British psychiatrist Lorna Wing in the 1980s. However, Asperger himself is not without controversy as it appears that he did indeed aid the Nazi’s during World War II.

The proven ways diet can impact the symptoms of autism

According to Brian Udell, MD, director of the Child Development Center of America, autism is often accompanied by gastrointestinal conditions.

Taken a step further, people on the autism spectrum disorder often have chronic diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and bloating as well as other nutritional issues and food allergies.

While there is currently no cure for autism or specifically recommended treatment, removing certain food items from the diet and taking steps to ensure healthy gut bacteria have been shown to improve the symptoms of autism.

According to the Autism Network, about 25% of autism patients who exclude gluten from their diet find “relief and improvement”.

Other parents have tried removing highly allergic food items such as eggs, fish, nuts, dairy, and soy. The best strategy is to eliminate all items in question from the diet. Then slowly reintroduce them 1 at a time to see the effects.

Healthy eating for all children is essential, but this is even more true for kids with autism.

Going back to Brian Udell, MD, he recommends avoiding:

  • heavily processed foods
  • fast food
  • artificial colors and flavors
  • preservatives
  • hormones & antibiotics in meat and dairy

He also recommends omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and a probiotic with 1.5 to 4 billion bacterial parts to improve gastrointestinal health.

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autism statistics worldwide happy autistic boy Middle Class Dad

Asperger statistics

Aspergers is a type of autism.

All autistic people have certain challenges in common, but because autism is a “spectrum” it affects different people in different ways.

Persons with Asperger syndrome may also have mental health challenges. Thus they may need additional support.

People with Asperger syndrome often have above average intelligence.

They are likely to not have the learning disabilities that challenge many with autism, but they may have challenges with social patterns and recognizing social cues.

Those with Aspergers also have fewer problems with speech but have great challenges understanding the true meaning behind some words and phrases. They may be especially challenged with so-called “figures of speech” and want to take things very literally.

According to the Asperger/Autism Network, about 1 in every 250 people fall somewhere on the Asperger profile.

While studies are still a little inconclusive, many feel that specifically with Asperger syndrome, the ratio of boys to girls is 2/1.

Thus there is a much higher incident rate for girls specifically with Aspergers compared to the 4-1 ratio for the autism spectrum as a whole.

Autism statistics worldwide increases over the years

According to the CDC, 1 in 59 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum.

Worldwide, however, the World Health Organization puts the autism rates by country at 1 in 160. Going back to the CDC study, they have found a 15% increase in autism spectrum disorder diagnosis over the past 2 years.

Going back to 2004, they have found a whopping 181% increase through 2018.

Risk factors for autism

Going back to the CDC, they find that:

  • If one twin has autism the other is up to 95% more likely to also have autism
  • Parents of one autistic child are up to 18% more likely to have other autistic children
  • Autism is more likely to occur under “certain genetic or chromosomal conditions”. Thus children with autism are 10% more likely to have down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders
  • Children born to older parents are more likely to have autism
  • Children of low birth weight or who are born prematurely have a slightly increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder

Medical costs associated with autism

Unfortunately for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder, medical costs are estimated to be as much as 6 times higher than for families with no autistic children.

According to the National Institutes of Health, parents with 1 or more autistic children spent, on average between $4,000-$6,000 more per year on medical costs.

According to Autism Speaks, looking at autism statistics worldwide, the cost of caring for a child with autism is $60,000/year. Obviously, some of that would be covered under insurance and they are also factoring in lost income if one parent chooses to stay home.

Autism statistics worldwide age for diagnosis

Going back to Autism Speaks:

  • Autism can be diagnosed between 18-24 months
  • The average age of diagnosis in the US is 4 years
  • While autism affects all ethnic groups, it is diagnosed later and less frequently in minority groups. Thus most reports show higher autism rates worldwide among whites compared to other ethnic groups

Unfortunately, not all countries track autism the way many of the more developed countries do.

There is also disparity among countries in the criteria used to diagnose autism. Thus in some cases measuring autism rates worldwide isn’t always an apples to apples comparison.

So let’s review the . . .

15 Shocking Autism Statistics Worldwide You Probably Didn’t Know

1. The Top 5 autism rates by country:

  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • Sweeden
  • Denmark
  • United States

2. The Top 5 countries with the lowest autism rates worldwide are:

  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • France
  • The Netherlands

3. Autism rates by country are far higher in the so-called developed world than in so-called 3rd countries

4. Boys are 4 times more likely to have autism than girls

5. Boys are only 2 times more likely to have Asperger’s than girls

6. 1 in 59 children in the US are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder each

7. That figure is 181% higher than it was in 2004

8. Autism rates worldwide increase, on average, about 15% every 2 years

9. Diagnosis can be made as early as age 18 months

10. The average age for diagnosis in the US is 4 years

11. Autism rates worldwide are higher for white children than they are for other ethnic groups

12. However, diagnosis of other ethnic groups often happens later and less often than it does for white families

13. In the US, those of Hispanics are the ethnic group with the lowest rate of autism

14. The average family in the US sees the costs of having an autistic child be as much as $60,000/year

This is between medical expenses, additional education costs and lost wages of a parent staying home

15. On medical expenses alone, parents can expect to spend between $4,000-$6,000 more per year than parents who do not have an autistic child

Sensational Brain is an outstanding resource for parents, educators, and children. They provide both free and paid tools to help kids with sensory processing disorders including autism as well as ADHD and other conditions.

Did we cover everything you wanted to know about autism statistics worldwide?

In this post, we took a look at autism rates by country.

We also looked at rates of increase over the years and the countries with the highest autism rates worldwide. But we also looked at rates by gender.

You’ll notice that while I did draw some conclusions, I stayed away from conspiracy theories and controversy.

While any discussion of autism is likely to draw some disagreement, my point was to stick with the facts and autism statistics worldwide and not alienate anyone.

After all, parents of autistic kids have enough challenges without being alienated by strong opinions on one side or another.

I am not a parent of autistic kids but my wife is a teacher who specializes in autistic kids and in my 9 to 5 working with kids, I do see a number of kids on the autism spectrum.

Thus, while not an expert, I am closely connected to that world.

Any tips, suggestions or questions about autism statistics worldwide?

Middle Class Dad autism statistics worldwide bio

I am not a doctor, autism expert or a health professional. This post, like all my posts, is based on my research, opinions and observations. If you need medical or professional advice you should seek out a qualified professional in your area.

2 thoughts on “15 Shocking Autism Statistics Worldwide You Probably Didn’t Know”

  1. As a parent of an autistic boy I am convinced that there is an environmental factor fueling the autism pandemic. The statistics you shared are a good starting point. It begs the question what is so different between neighbors like Germany and Denmark? Why do Hispanics have lower rates? One thing that comes to my mind as worth investigating is differences in diet. Hispanics have maize as a staple grain in their diet, whereas other Americans mostly have wheat as the staple grain. Now for Germany and Denmark, they both have wheat as a staple, but unlike the Danes the Germans do not fortify their wheat flour with folic acid. Like Denmark the US also fortifies wheat flour. Fortification with folic acid started in the 1998, autism rates also started to increase around the same time. Could wheat fortification be the culprit? There are anomalies like Japan (rice as staple) and UK (no compulsory fortification). But I think it is worth investigating. The US has made it mandatory to fortify maize flour as of 2016. So it will be interesting to see how this affects Hispanic autism rates in the coming years.

    • Hi Iyad

      Thanks for taking the time to give such a thoughtful and insightful comment! I agree with you completely and you’ve asked some great questions. The autism epidemic is certainly being fueled by something that so-called 1st world countries are doing. It may well not be created by anything man-made, but it’s certainly rising faster because of something we’re doing. I don’t have the answers, but you’ve posed some great questions.

      Thanks for being here!


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