Autism is a rather mysterious disorder that affects the verbal, social and non-verbal communication skills of children and adults. It appears usually by the time a child is two years old. According to The Institute of Neurological Disorders the percentage of children with autism is about one out of 1000 or .001 percent. Therefore, the number of children with autism in the United States is about 1.5 million. The most mysterious aspect of the disease, however, is the sudden increase in births with autism that are occurring without any proven cause or influence for the increase. The number of children in the U.S. born with autism has risen recently to 10-17 percent per year. This makes autism the most rapidly increasing condition in the United States. If this increase in autism goes on un-interrupted we could be looking at more than four million Americans living with autism within the next decade, according to the Autism Society of America.
Autism Incidence Has Increased Exponentially
The economic statistical impact for the care of autistic people is quite staggering as well. The Autism Society of America estimates that is will cost anywhere between 3.5 million dollars to 5 million dollars to pay for the care of just one autistic child including insurance, research, special education, transportation, and housing. This adds up to 90 billion dollars in annual costs for autism! By 2013 the numbers are projected to become even more staggering, 200-400 billion dollars a year.
What makes it difficult for researchers to find a cause for the steep increase in autism is that the rise of autism has no patterns specific to region, ethnicity, culture or lifestyle that they can tell of. Autism statistics seem about even throughout the entire globe. There is one definite pattern in autism statistics, however, in sex. Young boys are 4 times as likely to have autism than girls. In other words, four out of five people struck with autism are male. Also interesting is that 40 percent of autistic people have epilepsy. This may be due to the problems in autistics of a neurological nature.
There has been some scant evidence of links of a hereditary nature in autism as well, but not enough to yet be conclusive. Some autistic individuals have come from families with slight patterns of autism. It is reported by some researchers in the field of autism that a child with a brother or sister who is autistic will be 25 times more likely to be autistic themselves. No gene yet has been detected in DNA to be the cause of autism, however. Researchers are still looking for patterns in genetic codes related to autism that they hope will perhaps indicate the hereditary link.
Other researchers have been checking out environmental factors related to autism, exposure to chemicals, complications with vaccine shots, viruses, and imbalances in metabolism for causes as well. So far all of these areas of research have proven inconclusive.
The economic and social impact of this disease is huge. The budget, however, in the United States to research it is less than 5 percent of the money that is used for far rarer diseases.