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Researchers track down autism rates across the globe

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Virginia Hughes
7 April 2011

In urban areas of South Korea, some families of children with developmental delays will go to great lengths to avoid a diagnosis of chapae, or autism. They think of it as a genetic mark of shame on the entire family, and a major obstacle to all of their children's chances of finding suitable spouses.

The stigma is so intense that many Korean clinicians intentionally misdiagnose these children with aechak changae, or reactive detachment disorder — social withdrawal that is caused by extreme parental abuse or neglect.

"The parents prefer this [diagnosis] because the mother can take the bullet and protect everybody else," says Roy Richard Grinker, professor of anthropology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who has screened some 38,000 children in South Korea for the country's first study of autism prevalence.

Because of stigma, lack of awareness about mental health and poor medical infrastructure, few autism prevalence studies exist outside of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. "Even though it seems like anybody and everybody has heard of autism, in many places in the world it's still sort of a new topic," says Charles Zaroff, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Macau in China.

Zaroff and Grinker are part of a small but growing group of researchers charting autism in new territories. Rigorous autism screening studies are underway not only in South Korea, but in Mexico, India and South Africa. In the past year, prevalence estimates from Brazil1, Oman2 and Western Australia3 have been published in mainstream journals for the first time.

Calculating prevalence is often the first step toward launching government and nonprofit mental health services in these countries. Numbers can also lead to scientific insights on the genetic, environmental and cultural underpinnings of autism.

"It's been a big question for years to ask: Is there any difference across countries and across cultures in the rates of autism?" notes Eric Fombonne, professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, who has led autism epidemiological studies in a half-dozen countries.

Misleading methods:

The first prevalence studies in any region typically find low numbers. For instance, the new study in Brazil found 27.2 cases of autism per 10,000 people, and last year's report from Oman found 1.4, compared with the oft-quoted U.S. average of 66. Similarly small numbers have come out of studies in China (16.1), Indonesia (11.7) and Israel (10).

These low rates are likely to be the result of the methods used, experts say. Most first-pass epidemiological studies are based on a review of medical records, which are often incomplete or non-existent, depending on the state of a country's healthcare system and the number of clinics with experts qualified to diagnose childhood disorders. "A records-based approach can only count the cases that you can see," Grinker says.

This is also a problem in the U.S. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the highest autism prevalence in states with the best autism health and support services, such as Arizona (121 cases per 10,000 people), Missouri (121) and New Jersey (106). In contrast, areas with fewer services have lower rates, such as Alabama (60), Arkansas (69) and Florida (42).

Over time, however, as more parents and clinicians become familiar with autism, prevalence goes up. In many parts of the world, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan and Scandinavia, "The rates were flat through the late '80s, and then suddenly a massive rise happened at same time," Fombonne says. The rise is probably not due to a mysterious global environmental exposure, he says. "It's more likely to reflect new concepts of autism worldwide."

Low autism prevalence is not confined to poor countries. A handful of small studies in France, for example, have found rates around 5 cases per 10,000 people. One study in Germany calculated it to be 1.9, and another in Portugal 16.7.

Differences in scientific approach among these countries may affect the results, notes Mayada Elsabbagh, research associate at Birkbeck University of London.

"In some European countries, they have very psychodynamic views about autism," she says. "If you don't think this disorder is driven by biological causes, then you wouldn't think there was any use in doing epidemiological studies or trying to understand causal pathways."

Elsabbagh is working with 11 international researchers on a systematic review sponsored by the World Health Organization, including articles published in languages other than English.

"Some of us started with the bias that there's nothing out there, but it turns out there's a lot, they just don't tend to be in mainstream journals," she says. The report is expected to be published later this year.


Language and culture may also affect the way this research is carried out. For instance, the Korean language uses an extensive array of suffixes that denote the relationship between the speaker and the subject. South Korean children with autism have trouble using these social markers, but the Western-based standard tests of autism, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), don't test for this.

Similarly, Grinker points out, healthy children from non-Western cultures may display a trait that ADOS counts as a symptom of autism. In South Korea, for example, making eye contact with an adult is not socially appropriate.

"This is why it's pretty useful to have [anthropologists] who can translate diagnostic instruments that were designed in one culture and used in another," Grinker says.

It's also possible that the nature of social development in children who grow up in the West is not the same as that for children who grow up elsewhere. Take, for instance, the theory of mind, the ability to infer what other people are thinking, which is impaired in people with autism.

Unlike in English, verbs such as 'think' and 'believe' have different forms in Chinese, depending on the speaker's perception of the statement's accuracy4. This linguistic reinforcement could mean that Chinese children develop theory of mind differently than do children in the West, Zaroff notes.

Most experts agree that methodological and cultural factors explain the bulk of differences in autism prevalence around the world, but they don't rule out the possibility of genetic differences among populations.

For example, U.S. prevalence studies show that autism rates in Hispanic communities are lower than in non-Hispanic communities, even when adjusted for socioeconomic factors5. In contrast, the highest recorded autism prevalence is from a 2008 study in Japan, which calculated a whopping 181 cases per 10,000 people.

One provocative, though unstudied, explanation is that in Hispanic cultures, where gregariousness is highly valued, having features of autism could affect one's reproductive opportunities more than in Asian cultures, which value solitude and seriousness, especially in men.

"This is just a hypothesis, but we just don't know," says Cristiane Silvestre de Paula, an investigator on the new Brazil study.

To explore the genetic contribution, Young-Shin Kim, one of Grinker's collaborators on the South Korea prevalence study, is screening blood samples from South Korean children with autism. Because of geographic and cultural isolation, Koreans are ethnically similar, which helps researchers find autism-related hotspots, says Kim, assistant professor at the Yale University Child Study Center.

Because of the stigma against autism in South Korea, Kim says about half of the families declined to participate in the genetic study. Still, the situation is gradually improving, she says.

"Once they are diagnosed," she says, "that's when we have a chance to develop a rapport with them and talk them through with autism really means."


1. Paula C.S. et al. J. Autism Dev. Disord. Epub ahead of print (2011) PubMed

2. Al-Farsi Y.M. et al. J. Autism Dev. Disord. Epub ahead of print (2010) PubMed

3. Parner E.T. et al. J. Autism Dev. Disord. Epub ahead of print (2011) PubMed

4. Liu D. et al. Dev. Psychol. 44, 523-531 (2008). PubMed

5. Palmer R.F. et al. Am. J. Public Health 100, 270-272 (2010) PubMed


Name: Rose
8 April 2011 - 6:04PM

Perhaps it has something to do with the gullibility of the populace.

The French are wiser than they seem...

Name: Frank Rosato
28 March 2014 - 11:04AM

If developed countries have a higher incidence then the use of ultrasound exams need to be studied. Ultrasound is low level energy that the developing brain is exposed to during pregnancy. These procedures are more frequent in developed nations. Ultrasound can potentially disrupt the brain waves of the prenatal baby by impacting the neurotransmitter development/connectivity of the brain. It probably doesn't take much.

Name: Rogue Naturopath.com
5 July 2014 - 12:07PM

Certainly worth considering. Although, I would still say heavy metals are atop the list, both from in utero exposure, post birth exposure, and epigenetics acquisition.

Name: euro
1 October 2014 - 6:53PM

I live in Sweden where autism rates are high and hospitals here only give pregnant mothers one ultrasound. In my home country of Australia, the standard is three ultrasounds.

Name: maybe
1 March 2015 - 7:18PM

I also live in sweden, ive got more than 1 ultrasond and the last was in 1 hour whith 3 picture, because it was students and all wanted too test.
My child got autism and ADHD

Name: SueX
13 May 2015 - 9:56AM

"Maybe", we have good evidence that autism is genetic. Ultrasounds are safe, they are merely sound waves and have no effect on the developing fetus. Among the risk factors for autism are age of the parents and you should have your husband tested for Asperger's Syndrome.

Name: Marie
15 November 2014 - 12:05AM

I know a couple who have twins... on severely autistic (a boy) and one completely normal (a girl). So why one and not the other. ???

Name: maybe
1 March 2015 - 7:23PM

because it is 5 times higer in boys, maybe because they only got 1 X kromosom and if thats wrong they dont got one extra?

Name: SueX
13 May 2015 - 9:51AM

Marie those twins are non-identical so they can be as different as two siblings born years apart. Identical twins show a high incidence of heritability for autism.

Name: Lori
18 March 2015 - 7:05PM

Yes this is true. In addition they have done studies that show it can cause cellular changes within the brain of the developing fetus. Granted it takes a lot of ultra sounds to cause it, but who is to say that changes can occur that we may not see visually.

Name: Virginia Hughes
11 April 2011 - 1:45PM

Hi Rose,

I'll refrain from commenting on the sagacity of the French people. But it's safe to say that A) psychoanalytic treatments don't do much for improving the symptoms of autism; and B) there is overwhelming evidence that autism has genetic and neurodevelopmental causes. Here are a few articles with more information:





Thanks for reading SFARI!

Name: JRFred@wavecable.com
7 February 2014 - 2:44AM

How do I get a study on twins and autism?

Name: Greg Boustead
7 February 2014 - 3:02PM

If you would like to read about more autism/twin studies, here’s a good review of many of the significant twin studies from the last 10 years in the American Journal of Medical Genetics:


To inquire about participating in autism studies, I’d recommend checking the following resources:

- ASF’s research directory: http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/participate-research

- Interactive Autism Network: https://www.ianresearch.org

- Autism Speaks’ research directory: http://bit.ly/LPZqSH

Name: Anonymous
25 August 2014 - 4:38PM

Autism is called a spectrum disorder because itcan display itself with certain known sets of symptoms or through a vast array of different neurological disorders,however it does show signs of brain damage in some sorts more often than not encephalitis is the culprit and can be brought on by extreme fever or infectionor in some cases an adverse reaction to adjuvant's in vaccinations

Name: eva
12 December 2014 - 6:57PM

i have a daughter on the spectrum and she is 3 years old and she never has fever besides when she gets the flu ,so i don`t know how fever can be a factor

Name: a mom
30 January 2015 - 5:54AM

Hi Eva,
there is some anecdotal evidence that the mother, not the child, developing flu or fevers during pregnancy could increase chance of having autism spectrum child

Name: Shree C Vaidya
13 April 2011 - 11:14AM

Thanks for your article about the track-down autism rates across the globe.I support your work.Field work as described above definitely will support the research work pragmetically to other tools to enhance to finding the cause of autism.Thank you once again.

Name: Mark Carew
14 April 2011 - 9:51AM

Your study is pioneering at the frontiers of our Global Human Consciousness. Those AS/cultural diversities appear to map with geographically or politically insular cultures. As with some other heritable traits, the cultural 'non recognition' of congenital diagnosis translates to an isolated maternal burden, rather than generalized to sibling sisters. In any case that heritage may persist unseen for any number of generations via the female line. Perhaps this cultural response (pressure to 'honor the ancestors with 'flowering' of a male child') is a compounding factor in some cultures. Daughters continue to be born to son-less couples, where economics of the culture plays that card. As with any sex linked and predominantly male expressed recessive, the (usually ancient) genetic relics are intended to be sustained beyond environmental challenges (via the female line) and so this heritage sustains across our Global gene pool. AS It might be seen as a cultural genetic heritage rather than individual trait. Your study illustrates this 'persistence' mechanism played out at the cultural level (preservation by isolation). As in Japan, Cultural heritage' may inevitably translate to a co-factor of statistical prevalence, by symbiosis, as opposed to a culture specific genetic bias or marker. Culture remains primarily a function of genetics via evolution. Respect for cultural diversities is perhaps fundamental to the political challenges of your research.

It seems S Korea also has very special opportunities to lead valuable studies.
Good luck


Name: Hayleye Xerc
13 May 2011 - 5:18AM

There are some new studies challenging current estimates of the number of kids with autism. A study found that among random families in South Korea, more kids exhibited signs of autism than were diagnosed with it. The implication is that many cases of autism go undiagnosed. Here is the proof: <a title="Autism rates could possibly be higher than thought claims study" href="http://www.newsytype.com/5975-autism-rates/">Autism rates could be higher than previously thought</a>

Name: Virginia Hughes
13 May 2011 - 11:09AM

Hi Hayleye,

The South Korea work is indeed fascinating. SFARI also covered the new study you mention, here:


Thanks for reading!

Name: Anonymous
10 March 2012 - 12:05PM

Autism research is a joke. "One provocative, though unstudied, explanation is that in Hispanic cultures, where gregariousness is highly valued, having features of autism could affect one's reproductive opportunities more than in Asian cultures, which value solitude and seriousness, especially in men." HOW LAME. This is sciene? PLEEASSE.

"This is just a hypothesis, but we just don't know," says Cristiane Silvestre de Paula, an investigator on the new Brazil study. WE ARE SICK OF GUESSING. Get out of the autism research business if you're going to make sophmoric empty remarks like this.

Name: Mel
9 December 2013 - 9:01AM

I would have to agree, if you can point me to a better paper on global rates of Autism please share link?

Name: reader
12 January 2014 - 3:44AM

a better hypothesis is that hispanic communities might be more poor and dont visit pediatricians and therefore dont get all those overwhelming vaccines.

Name: CostOfAutism
7 November 2014 - 1:22PM

I'm thinking the reason for lower Autism rates in the Hispanic community is very easy to explain. Latin American Men tend to marry women 7 to 15 years their Junior, so the women tend to be much younger than American Women when having their first child. There's already a study out that says that the lowest rates of Autism are with Women who are under the age of 25 when they have their kids. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-maternal-age/
This makes sense, because normally people's hormone levels begin to drop right around the age of 25, though you don't usually notice until you're 30 to 35.
My son has Autism, as does several of our friends (mostly Hispanic), but our group are all professionals who had our kids in our late 30's and early 40's. We don't like to admit it, but having a child late in life probably isn't the best thing for us to do from a biological standpoint.

Name: nombre
3 January 2015 - 4:58PM

I don't think its age, I think its because GMO's are illegal in Mexico. Mexico has a wide variety of native corn that took hundreds if not thousands of years to adjust perfectly to its environment and they are trying to protect that. Because of this their corn grows well without fertilizers or pesticides.

Name: VagueAnswers
22 February 2015 - 3:50PM

No one likes to admit that parental age is a huge factor and it's glaringly obvious. All my "white trash" friends and I had our kids in our early twenties (I was 23 and constantly looked down on as if I had zero ambition), but our kids are unusually healthy (and vaccinated out the wazoo as mandated). Now that our kids are teenagers, we all have baby fever, but we also so what can happen because there are so many ASD kids in our kids' schools.

As for the post above blaming "incompetent parents"...the moms I know with autistic kids have to be better mothers than I ever was out of necessity. They're amazing mothers who have given up their lives to care for their children.

Name: Oda
27 March 2014 - 11:43PM

my thoughts exactly.

Name: Michael
22 January 2013 - 5:51AM

I'm a grandparent of a wonderful 5 y/o girl who has ASD. My daughter was given quetiapine/Seroquel during her pregnancy. This is an atypical Class C antipsychotic that is a dopamine serotonin antagonist. My current research has within one week found one other women with the same story. Here in the USA we have the highest rate of antidepressants/antipsychotics prescribed on the planet. We also seem to have the highest rate of ASD globally. Whether ASD is related to the use use of psych pharma or simply exaggerated hormone receptors, I feel that studies need to directed in this direction.

Name: Agonzalez
16 August 2013 - 11:43AM

I have two children on the Autism Spectrum. I had a midwife during all 3 of my pregnancies, and took 0 medications! I am a member of a small community of Parents of Autism... Most of us have the story that our children were givin multiple shots at one time, MMR included. My son quit talking that day! And it took years to regain it!
I know lots of people THINK the government is there to give you truthful information... But their largest position on this, is sweep it under the rug! Because they own the pharmaceutical companies!

Name: Oda
27 March 2014 - 11:47PM

I call this damage control. Imagine data would surface that confirms your suspicions! If a vaccine was given and a normal child suddenly and shortly after becomes ABnormal, chances are VERY strong there's a connection!!

I have seen vaccine reactions in animals. Can't say that they develop something like autism, but it can make them severely ill and some have died. Laminitis in horses is common.

Name: dave
17 September 2014 - 11:14AM

Goverments don't own pharmaceutical companys,its the other way around.I see the rise in Children suffering from ASD goes hand in hand with the rise in power that the corporations now seem to have over goverments and countrys alike,to much of a coincidence to think otherwise.In fact most suffering in the world will have the stink of a multinational conglomerate all over it.Probably why most cases are reported in countrys run by them.

Name: Alisha
28 September 2014 - 8:12AM

Weather its medications during pregnancy or immunization after the pharmaceutical companies & government are the biggest bed buddies you will ever know!!! I have a daughter that is severe on ASD scale. I was pushed into taking antipsychotics while pregnant (I stopped after a week because I knew it wasn't right & Alexis had a seizure at 15 months following an immunization. All studies, unless independently conducted are full of it! We will never know in our lifetime & probably not their (ASD generation) because the # is 1 in 50 that are on the scale & those kids will all be under government care after or before we die. I know the government loves that idea...large controlled masses on heavy medication & total control. It make me sick. Do the good of the"Many" really out weight the few? And I'm in complete agreement concerning the lack of Hispanic prevalence due to all of the illegal immigration, rise of old diseases such as wooping cough( brought over the border), and the general lack of these communities to vaccinate their children (likely linked to illegal status). Who is performing theses studies & are my taxt dollars being wasted on this crap while the president is golfing in Martha's vineyard?

Name: Statistician
1 October 2014 - 12:16PM

Do not make conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION! If you already have decided that vaccines are the cause of ASD, then it is a simple exercise to track down another case where vaccination and ASD presentation happen to coincide. A real question would be to compare the rates of ASD for vaccinated and non-vaccinated children. This would be better than the hearsay "evidence" that we are getting from the anti-vaccination crowd. Another good study would be to compare how often ASD appeared BEFORE vaccines were give with how often it appears directly after. Yet another study would be to see how soon after vaccination ASD appears. If vaccines are a trigger, then there should be a dramatic increase in appearance of symptoms close to the vaccination date. So Anti-vaccinators out there please start using some reliable statistical methods. I'll close with a story which started me down the road to statistical testing: as a child I noticed that every time I walked under a particular streetlamp, the bulb went out. I was convinced that I was giving off some type of secret energy that blew the bulbs and tried to convince my science teacher of this "fact". He patiently went with me to a spot on a hill well away from the streetlamp where we could observed the natural behavior without my "influence". Of course, the bulb went on and off quite often, as streetlamps nearing the end of their lifetime will oft do. Boy did I feel stupid. But it did teach me that you have to always compare to the null hypothesis!

Name: Esther
20 January 2015 - 10:39AM

Has anyone ever wondered why there isn't a high level of autism among ADULTS if vaccination was the cause? We have a massive jump in PEANUT allergies in thelast 10 years. Our generation grew up with peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.... Food, the way it is grown and manufactured has affected a woman's system. Add to that a genetic weakness where the brain is concerned,
women having children at an older age. Another thing is modern women BREASFEED less and baby formulas have a high level of sugar which weakens the immune system of children and adults alike....

Name: Esther
20 January 2015 - 10:44AM

*BREASTFEED less[Breast milk has a lot of properties which boost a child's immunity]...

Name: A Parent
28 January 2015 - 6:23AM

I know of 6 kids, after they got their MMS shots their mental development stopped. They stopped talking like they used to. They had good eye contact before that and in days after the MMS, they looked like they were looking past you, like there was no feeling in their eyes. Some of these kids regained some ability to talk at age 5 or 6 and some are still in the process of trying. If a lot of the kids in the world showed sign of Autism at around the same age level maybe science needs to study what vaccine is causing it or what is causing it at that age instead of blindly stating "it has nothing to do with vaccines".

Name: a friend
7 February 2015 - 1:49PM

they aren't blindly stating it has nothing to do with vaccines. The researcher who came out with this idea was debunked after being peer reviewed and his research was found to be practically fraudulent. Even so, whatever it was they thought might be an issue in vaccines was removed many years ago. Something else is going on here.

Name: Concerned grandmother
7 May 2015 - 10:10PM

I had the opportunity to ask a pediatrician if there had ever been a study done to prove that multiple vaccines given at one time was not harmful & his response was "NO'. My advice is to spread them out! My children are between the ages of 37 & 41 & I had never known anyone with autism when that generation only received about 8 vaccines. My grandson, who is 8 & autistic, received more than that by the time he was diagnosed at 18 months.

Name: Entheogen
13 May 2015 - 3:43AM

Then that pediatrician lied to you, did not know, or you are lying about the pediatrician..


Name: Susie
9 February 2015 - 9:51PM

Other people have told me similar stories. I knew of no one with Autism when my kids w r really growing up. But most of the parents I know are 10 years younger than me. I am 58 now. I totally agree with you.I think it could be the mercury and/or how closely administered.

Name: Mel
9 December 2013 - 9:06AM

Now that is a sensible hypothesis! Thank you Michael. Interesting fact that as soon as you suggested it I had a flash back of a friend of mine with 2 children with ASD... the 1st 2 were fine, the last two... not so lucky... after the first 2 she become heavily medicated and reliant on anti-depressants before falling pregnant with the 3rd and 4th.

Name: Rose Walker
31 May 2013 - 6:52PM

C. Lords latest says most children with autism stay the same, regardless of intervention (although interventions were not documented). I don't think autism emerges in infancy...I think it emerges in the womb, but not necessarily at conception.

Well, okay, the french can be idiots, but who is to say that psychoanalytical therapy is any different from behavioral, which adult autistics see in retrospect as causing PSTD? (I guess they do have that "wrapping" thing they do, which is abusive, but not much different from the very physical restraints we use here in America.)

Still, it's so obvious to me, that green dots in America tell me it is highly over-represented here. Believe it or not, autistic children have been raised by parents without the help of behavioral or any other psychology since the beginning of time. It's what we do.

Name: chuck wintner
11 January 2014 - 7:29AM

Early behavioral intervention can work wonders; I've seen at. I'm an educational psychologist. Psychoanalytic theory does not apply; autism is neurological, not psychological. Bruno Bettleheim's theories were disproved long ago. Holding onto this notion may be what is behind so much denial of the disorder, and there for delayed or inadequate intervention.

Name: KG
24 November 2014 - 10:38AM

I'll speak from my personal experience as a sufferer - if that is worth anything to anyone here.

Although my experiences and treatment have been successful and I can basically pass for normal these days - I am a 27-year-old male from Victoria, Australia - I will also give the caveat that I am only a mild case and your results may vary - I'll give you some inside information. A lot of us have major sensory issues - I can remember never being able to wear wool on my skin for a very long time, because I felt the tiny barbs of the wool - unnoticeable to many people - which, interpreted by my senses, made me think of wool as being very itchy to wear. Or there might have been high-pitched noises that hurt our ears, or for some of us, we can't handle touch very well and we don't like being poked or prodded, even in jest. Our physical senses are very sensitive and it takes a lot of training, discipline and experience to cope. We often act out because we're confused. Also, another thing is, autistics, especially children, are very literal thinkers. You can't tell an autistic kid he can't have a cookie from the cookie jar when you don't want him to, he'll just grab a stool and steal cookies from the jar when you're not looking - in other words, he understands 'you can't do it' almost like a dare. I should know as I did that quite a bit in other peoples' houses as a kid, which no doubt was very embarrassing for my parents. You'd have to say that he isn't allowed to take cookies from the jar without your say-so, explain why he shouldn't, and tell him he will be disciplined if he does it - and if he does do it anyway, follow through with your discipline. While raising children at all is, as I understand it, a very difficult thing even for neurotypical "normal" children, raising an autistic child is even more difficult. If you are not up to the task of raising your child, perhaps adopting the child out or giving the child to the foster care system is the best answer. I understand how difficult it is for you to try to raise us, and I personally do not hold you as any lesser of a person if you were to do so. I wish there was something I personally could do to help, but I'm no millionaire or PHD holder. It seems that the biggest problems with such children seem to be in America - perhaps America is not good for people with autism, and autism is not good for America. There is the practice of international adoption that Americans take on foreign children, perhaps these autistic American kids could be adopted out at an early age?

Name: KG
24 November 2014 - 10:21AM

Yes, the word "overrepresented". The Oxford dictionary defines the word overrepresent as "Include a disproportionately large number of (a particular category or type of person), as in a statistical study." In other words, too many people think that's the case when sometimes it isn't. A lot of people will diagnose a kid as autistic, when in fact he's just a uncouth and spoiled brat who needs extra discipline. And the reverse is true as well. Linguistics is one of my "special interests".

Name: dinah
4 June 2013 - 8:51AM

Wow! You are all so arrogant!

Name: Rose Walker
10 June 2013 - 4:31PM

I think it takes arrogance to further your minds/labs perspective of looking at autism even though you've never actually met an autistic besides maybe a mouse or a fruit-fly with "tendencies", while autistic adults who age out of the educational system and their families are left to their own devices, with waiting lists of years...

People who speak "truth" to "power" are always thought of as "arrogant" or "uppity" as they disrupt the status quo. They make the powerful uncomfortable, and therefore must be dismissed. I'm out of here...

Name: KG
24 November 2014 - 10:13AM

If there's anyone you need to listen to about autism, why not ask the patients themselves - those of us who can talk, at least? You ask a cancer patient or a suffer of multiple sclerosis about how their experience is. Why not ask someone who is on the autism spectrum what they're thinking? Or are you afraid of what we might have to say?

Name: KG
24 November 2014 - 10:17AM

By you I mean neurotypicals - those of us not affected by autism spectrum disorders. I'm sure some of you mean well for people like us, so why not ask us what it's like? Not doing so is morally equivalent to the same kind of well-meaning racial prejudice that nearly exterminated the Indigenous Australians (the fact of which is an ongoing issue for my countryfolk), or to use a more America-centred issue, the ongoing exploitation and discrimination against your African-American and Hispanic-American populations.

Name: tom blakeslee
17 June 2013 - 3:18PM

It appears that you are trying to rationalize the results by suggesting under reporting in some countries. It appears that Roundup Ready crops may well be the cause of autism increases so the epidemic in US and Canada and lack of an epidemic in Europe, where GMO foods are banned, easily explains the differences. Roundup Ready crops should never have been approved. The mistake seems to be that it was assumed that they couldn't affect humans but they forgot that our gut bacteria which outnumbers our own cells by a factor of 10, very much affects our brain and nutrition but it takes time for the effects to show. Here is a reference you should read:

Name: Entheogen
13 May 2015 - 3:47AM

GMOs are not banned in Europe. Spain is one of the largest producers of GM corn, and many European nations have their own biotech industries, import exceptions, etc., especially for things like gm soybean, canola, etc.

Glyphosate is an easy target, but I'd be more focused on the much more toxic, highly persistent pesticides used in traditional and organic production.

But it's easy to blame something when belief gets in the way.

Name: Eugene
1 August 2013 - 3:56PM

These statistics are way outdated. We are not talking about 100+ cases per 10000 kids anymore. We are talking about 1 in about 44 kids at least in 2013 and these numbers will only continue to climb and with the rate it's going we will soon have 10% autistic kids born just years from now.

Name: Entheogen
13 May 2015 - 3:50AM

Rates aren't rising. Diagnosis rates and methods are. This is largely related to autism now being described as a "spectrum disorder". I fall somewhere on the spectrum among people who would have been considered "higher functioning" 20 years ago. When you increase the criteria by which persons can be included in a group, you automatically increase the size of that group.

Name: Eugene
1 August 2013 - 4:09PM

According to CDC statistics 1 in 88 kids born in 2000 were diagnosed to be autistics. Those statistics were collected in 2008. We are now in 2013. My own daughter born in 2010 is autistics as well. And we only have to guess why.
By statistics extrapolation using same rate of autism grows we are at about 1 in 20 kids rate of autism now and I believe later statistics will confirm it.
What we are facing in a very short period of time is a collapse of societies - when it will be time for your children to have children of their own - we might be at 50% of autism rate. Educational system will have to change. How society will adopt to half of young generation being socially disabled?
People don't think about it until it hits their families and in time it will touch almost everyone.

Name: Halls
29 March 2014 - 10:59PM

The collapse of society (because of illness that prevents people from functioning normally) is a very scary proposition. We HAVE to find out what's causing this epidemic.

Name: KG
24 November 2014 - 5:40AM

If you are that concerned about autism in America, seeing as the Hispanics seem to have less cases, I would recommend legalising these people, and encouraging interracial marriage. From the point of view here in Australia, the Hispanics are just dusky-looking whites for all intents and purposes culturally speaking.

Name: KW
3 March 2015 - 3:32AM

Hispanics who have been in the US for generations have already been intermarrying with whites etc. for generations. Hispanics just recently in US are not at all just dusky whites. Their culture (and many other things about them) is very different from US. Legalizing the illegal? You know nothing about the repercussions already happening. You know nothing about it obviously.

Name: Jennifer
2 September 2013 - 8:04PM

Oh wow, Eugene, you said that so well. That is exactly how I feel.

Name: liarliarpantsonfire
1 October 2013 - 11:24PM

my nephew was born 29 years ago. At the time he was given his MMR vaccination, he had been meeting all his milestones. Afterward he became extremely ill. Loma Linda Children's Hospital in CA could not find a reason for his illness. He stopped growing, he could not sit up without falling over, he stopped walking, crawling, talking, etc...as an adult he faces horrible obstacles because though he did regain his ability to speak and walk, he never caught up physically or emotionally. He is very immature and unable to hold a job. There is NOTHING out there for him. He was diagnosed while in school with Tourette's syndrome, OCD, and ADHD. There was autism when he was a baby, but no such thing as Autism Spectrum. Today his diagnosis would put him on the spectrum. He doesn't qualify for disability because all his medical information is too old or destroyed. We didn't know until I as his aunt tried to step in and help him as an adult that medical records are destroyed. The retention time varies state to state. He was 18 months old when this happened and the NIH was sent his information because his case was so odd at the time. Fast forward to 2004 when I met a woman with twins, a boy and girl. Both became ill after receiving their MMR. The boy worse than the girl. He lost all his milestones he had been meeting as did his sister. He went to a specialist in Oregon City, OR who did a complete panel on him and his metal counts were very high and he had to go through therapy treatments to draw those metals out. He's recovered to a certain extent, but will never be fully functional. These cases are 20 years apart, yet the trigger is the same. Developing countries may not do the count, but they don't appear to have the numbers anyway. Could it be because they don't vaccinate as we do here and inundate these babies with all these drugs on this very short time frame? Of course the government is not going to tell the truth on this, the responsibility would be so great as they are the ones who are requiring the vaccinations in the first place. I pray for those with autistic children and for my grandchildren to be. I don't know what the answer is, I just don't see the right questions being asked.

Name: Oda
27 March 2014 - 11:54PM

How can this possibly be ignored?? Obviously there IS a connection! I am sorry for all who had to go through this and are suffering :-(

Name: Entheogen
13 May 2015 - 3:52AM

The "connection" is that the vaccination occurs around the time when typical diagnosis occurs. It's a post hoc assumption about causality, but it does not establish causality.

Name: Carol
8 October 2013 - 1:18PM

Has anyone ever studied autism and prenatal sonograms? Could this be the reason it is more prevalent in recent years, and more prevalent in North America? A lot of obstetricians do multiple sonograms on pregnant patients, sometimes one every visit. I would like to know.

Name: Denise
16 November 2014 - 11:09AM

I worked in medical offices since the 60ies with MD's who delivered babies and gave baby vaccines but they gave single doses and no Ultra Sounds. Never saw a case of autism in all those years. In the 70ties reimbursements from newly formed managed care insurance companies reduced delivery fees and the doctors began using frequent Ultra Sounds to bolster lost revenue on pregnant patients early in their pregnancies when it normally was used infrequently in the last trimester to rule out complication. I too question the frequency, effect and necessity of these Ultra Sounds. And who gets more ultra sounds now, than multiple fetuses. But the parental observations regarding Primary vaccines and Autism seem pretty compelling also.

Name: ChemE
31 October 2013 - 1:54PM


Somebody needs to look closely at those high powered Doppler Radar Towers they have surrounded us with and just upgraded the power levels. I am seeing an increased number of fish kills, algae blooms , weather disturbances, sinkholes close to doppler radar stations. I think the 0.25-1.25 MWs of energy they are pumping continuously into the atmosphere may be gradually ionizing all of us at an increased rate.

Name: Nefer
11 March 2014 - 12:22AM


Name: P.UNNI
10 November 2013 - 3:03PM

Autism is on rise in all part of world. Medical science is yet to crack down the reason for this epidemic. Generally speaking medical science already reached stagnation point long time ago. Only technology is improving. This most alarming situation. Since there is no hope for the parents it is important to sit down a find a solution for this condition.solution means method to rehabilitate these people and implement it world wide. this is possible only to WHO

Name: KG
24 November 2014 - 5:55AM

Maybe it's an effect of evolution? High-functioning autistics and such tend to be fairly smart. The 'dumb' autistics fail to reproduce, the smartest of the bunch are able to pass for normal. Autism wouldn't occur with such prevalence unless it had positive traits at some point in the distant past where someone with autism would be in a position to attract resources that would enable him or her to have many children, enough to pass the genes on for centuries or even millennia until a saturation point. Think of professions in earlier times, such as blacksmiths, jewellers, alchemists, the high-tech professions of the medieval and other eras. In those days, perhaps making an exquisite piece of jewellery, which would take a lot of focus to do (which high-functioning autistics and Asperger sufferers are very good at) may well have sufficed in courtship in some places. Speaking as a person on the autism spectrum myself, I will agree that rehabilitation is necessary. Since the average parent may well be incapable of raising an autistic child properly, perhaps establishing a number of orphanages would be a good idea, enabling parents to anonymously drop off unwanted children legally. Within these orphanages, the children would be taught technical trades, art, and literature, and the nature of barracks quarters would force them to interact socially, thus reducing the number of Adam Lanza isolated basket case types at least. Part of the bureaucracy of such a system would have to match certain children to trades and to each other. When the children reach the age of majority, they could decide to live out in the community, or choose to stay on as an employee of the orphanage.

Name: Anonymous
29 November 2013 - 6:27PM

Doctors Scientists they know exactly what is going on but are to afraid to say. My son Autistic born 2007 - I wonder what the rates will be for that year. I often wonder if this form of Autism is different from the old 1 in 10 thousand Autism rate, I believe it to be brain damage from vaccines. I hope the truth comes out in my lifetime.

Name: CRD
1 December 2013 - 6:14AM

To those posting about a conspiracy by the government to hide that vaccinations cause autism, there have been several studies, one recent one from Japan that showed when MMR vaccination rates decreased, the rate of autism did not decrease, it actually slightly increased. The rise of Autism diagnosis have to do with better methods of detection and not just identifying kids who "don't speak" as autistic. My son is autistic and wasn't diagnosed until 4 and 1/2 because up until 3 he wasn't meeting his milestones. He never got sick from his vaccinations, not even a fever. Also studies aside, it does not explain why there are lots of people with ASD who do not get the MMR vaccine. In fact my nephew who is on the spectrum just regressed substantially after 18 months. He went from starting to talk and reaching his milestones to not. And he was never vaccinated (choice of my sister in law). In fact, out of all the grandkids on that side of the family he has been the most sick with flus, he got the mumps, ear infection after ear infection, you name it. Things like Polio and Measles were almost eradicated with vaccines, but we all seem to forget that. I know a young boy who died of tetanus because his parents didn't believe in "shots". And he died a horrible death and painful death. He was only 10 and the mother is a friend of my sister's. You know what she said after he died "I thought I was protecting him, instead he's dead because of my beliefs". In my mind even if you think MMR causes Autism, would you really rather have your child die from a preventable disease than they have a developmental disorder but very much alive? I know my answer.

Name: Mel
9 December 2013 - 9:22AM

Gosh, you know, I think by reading everybody's responses on here... it really is clear how desperate and sad this whole situation is for the families that are effected. CRD your point is quite valid and can not be ignored. In fact, just about everyone on here has some valid points and I feel there may be a link between all of them. The simple fact that rates are significantly higher in more developed parts of the world can not be a coincidence I'm sorry to bother anyone who disagrees... its just too blatantly obvious. The fact that governments of those developed countries are providing little if any explanation for this is what makes it more alarming. In this day and age of technology that has no boundaries and access to such highly evolved, empowering tools and scientists with the wealth knowledge with access to past history.... someone, somewhere knows something... perhaps an Autistic adult will use his god given special powers to enlighten us all one day.

Name: Oda
28 March 2014 - 12:02AM

be leery of studies...they are often faulty and biased (recent studies have shown this to be far too common) and not every body reacts the same. Hardier individuals tend to be less affected or issues show up later.....

Name: Carla Australia
20 February 2014 - 12:17AM

Our daughter is 5 she received a diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder 5 months ago.She has been enrolled at a special school for 2 and a half years . We got on-line straight away to search for what other parents were doing to help heal there children with autism ,and were very encouraged to discover it is possible to do more than make her "comfortable". The most significant of those is Biochemistry understanding what is going on in our child's body at a molecular level. We took away all grains all gluten GF), starchy veg,all sugars and sweeteners,and then Casein found in Milk (CF) ,No MSG, We eat natural ProBiotics daily eg Raw sauerkraut coconut Kefir, lots of organic eggs we strive to eat only organic veg after reading reports on what supermarkets and growers are spraying on what we eat. We Eat home made bone broth every day to heal her gut lining. And we have seen her autistic mannerisms become significantly reduced in days . We saw a girl who needed verbal prompting to eat every mouthful of food , turn to a girl with an appetite who was always hungry and eating nearly as much as me and needed no prompting to chew and swallow! a breakthrough to say the least :) She has grown !going from looking very pale and skinny to a having a healthy glow. She is now less bothered and controlling of day to day life ,her sensory issues: She stopped picking her face and body , needing hugs all the time and requesting hugs repeatedly diminished ,She is more comfortable with eye contact, she is calmer her speech is clearer & now comes up with original sentences (not just repeating as she previously had done).She wants to put on shows and sing all the nursery rhymes she knows (I have been singing them to her her whole life I thought they were falling upon deaf ears) Im getting teary now . She is starting to make believe and I couldn't feel more empowered as a mum, Just by changing what I feed her .It is important to note we do see regressions back to autistic behavior when she eats something contaminated. So we are at a bare bones diet ,nutritious but minimal this way we can introduce each food and monitor her reaction accurately. I am so inspired to share our story and get to the word out. and Im starting here. Please have a look at GAPS diet here is a link to a conference given by the Neurosurgeon whom created it http://youtu.be/hp90DngfBwc this has been a major starting point for us.

I was humbled that Jim Carey has been touched By autism and here is a link to the web he played a big role in creating http://www.generationrescue.org/ check out all the crutial info under the heading "RECOVERY".

significant viewing "Is your child's brain starving" by Dr. Michael R. Lyon variety of potential treatments to improve brain function in children and adults, without the use of drugs https://archive.org/details/ADHD-IsYourChildsBrainStarving

Bio Chemist Dr. Katherine Reid determined that certain foods were associated with her daughter's autistic behaviors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL4SD5f2toQ#t=11

I hope this can help others help there child as I am mine.

Name: Christina Lannen
30 March 2014 - 12:43PM

Has anyone considered the impact of processed foods, GMOs, dyes that are in our food?

Growing up in the 50's there were very few processed foods, but processed foods, including fast food, has been steadily increasing. As have the cases of autism.

Name: KG
24 November 2014 - 5:46AM

That's probably what it is. You do have processed foods in Australia, but not as many as in the USA. We have a very similar culture, but the trend in food is very different. Cattle reared for food are generally from large pastoral fields in the Outback as opposed to the prevalence of factory, and there is a huge backlash against battery hen farming and sow stalls in favour of free-range hens and open pig-rearing for instance. I am aware that correlation does not imply causation, but I'm just giving some "food for thought", no pun intended.

Name: Laura
17 May 2014 - 6:22PM

Two questions:
1. I know a few cases of autistic siblings. And the father is autistic too. It appears to run in the family. How are vaccines to blame?
2. I would love to see statistics for autism rates in countries where children are not immunized. Although I am guessing that mortality rates for children are very high in those countries.

Name: Laura Zelisko
17 May 2014 - 6:36PM

I am a bit confused. The word autism has been used since 1938 by Hans Asberger. The MMR vaccine did not get distributed until 1963. How can we blame the MMR vaccine???? This does not make sense to me.

Name: CateBell
10 June 2014 - 6:20AM

My daughter is 20 and on the Spectrum. She completely skipped the crawling stage. As she passed through several schooling situations, we were met with ever-changing diagnoses. First she was "oppositional and unruly", then she was "learning delayed", then ADHD, then came Asperger's diagnosis, OCD, Sensory Integration Disorder, and the teen years brought a virtual cocktail of labels including depression and self-harm to boot. I only mention this here to further underscore the fact that really the only qualitative conclusion to all the reported cases referenced in the map above is that Autism is everywhere and brings unsavory bedfellows with it.

I am fascinated by all the comments and offerings on this forum. There are as many questions as there are struggles in "spectrummy" families. I have at times wondered about the immunizations, but I have other children who received immunizations and are neuro-typical. Genetics MUST be the key. Spectrum-sensitive individuals express spectrum behaviors as a result of triggers, but only if they are wired with those tendencies. My daughter becomes verbally abusive, combative, and profane immediately after eating dairy. Spectrummy behavior presents in her father and uncle. Now that she is a legal adult, there is very little I can do for her.(And I will spare everyone the parade of things we have done, places we have gone, doctors we have seen, tens of thousands of dollars we have paid out for whatever therapy she needed next.) I have often dreamed for a place to live for our daughter and other young adults struggling "in the gray" (never fitting in between milder Aspergers and the neuro-typical)-a place where they have the support they need in order to face the world and succeed, a place that blends college with life skills, a place where they can be independent of family and on their own, yet safely integrated into society.

Name: N. HAGAN
31 July 2014 - 5:28PM

What ever causes, autism is enviormental , and is linked to some genes becoming weaker.

Name: susan rigali
17 August 2014 - 9:04PM

Looking through many graphs and maps only one conclusion can be drawn. In Gentically Modified Foods gene expression is turned on and off by promoter or repressor genes. The highest levels of autism are directly linked to agriculture production of gmo crops. LOOK at the midwest or South America for god's sake. Many infer that vaccines have had direct results on babies and young children.
There is uproar over GMOs in the food supply but over GMO vaccines, produced by the biotech/pharmaceutical industry and being given to millions of children (23 of them, called DNA vaccines), being marketed for "disease prevention," there is almost total silence.

Name: dave fortier
19 August 2014 - 5:22AM

reading through these comments have been very enlghtning. thank you all.
my 2 year old son has autism and ive quite frankly linked it to my wifes mercury fillings. thats just another angle on the topic. my son was abnormal from the day he came out the womb, before he ever had any vaccines, though i must still mention that the day he started vaccinations, the rate of his decline did indeed seem to accelerate.
we are trying to detox his system of metals with the hope he will improve, because thats all we have to go on.
thank you

Name: Anna
15 February 2015 - 3:26AM

One more thing - The more noticeable signs of autism occur from the ages of 1-3. It shows the same age range in non vaccinated children that have been reported, but I wouldn't rule out other things either. Having your children checked for metals isn't a bad idea if you do have a child that shows any signs of problems that seem to increase. Having a record of that will not only help you and your child, but its on record too for others if something shows up.

Name: Anna
15 February 2015 - 3:20AM

I have done some research in other countries, and when I had to make this decision, I was cautious on both sides. I did find that while I was caring for a child (care giver) who showed some signs that we couldn't figure out right away, (he was too young to determine)and that happened before his shots. He does have autism and that has now been identified, but I had children with other problems that Mom's and Dad's didn't really notice, or see as important and many of them first or second time parents. There is a possibility that this may happen before the child is born, but because the signs can be so easily thought to be something so innocent, it often isn't remembered by the parents. Care givers with some experience may be a better dot connector. It isn't the Parent's fault, and they do think it is something that may have to do with the environment, but still has to be solid markers for that to be researched. I do know there is a huge rate of both identical twins having it , while fraternal twins - there is less of a chance of both of them having autism, which suggest some genetic factors.

Japan did have a study a while back. They had to stop giving the MMR because of a possible contamination problem, and they tracked those children who did not have the MMR vaccine and they still saw autism occur in a percentage of those children as well. This happened in the 1990's.

So, these are some points of interest for those who feel they need more information to research on. I do know that because of my training I was able to see more then just autism markers among children. They do show up much earlier then we think as parents. We just don't see it first, mostly because we don't know, or don't want to think the worst. I also think it isn't a bad idea to be cautious, but I don't think not getting a vaccine because that could be a worst outcome them having autism in some cases.

Name: Emi
5 March 2015 - 11:31PM

For those of you who have stated otherwise, Mexico has a higher rate of Vaccination than the U.S.
Look it up and please quit blaming Mexicans for bringing diseases over the border. Having higher rates of poverty doesn't mean they are unvaccinated. It also follows that those crossing the order are usually vaccinated as well.

Name: Robert Nosearchimi
27 March 2015 - 5:19PM

If autism is considered a disease of affluence.... material goods matter less to people with affluence, and I believe this lack of attention and interest in the importance of things (material things in the environment) can be transferred and become a lack of attention to people.... then more wealthy countries would have higher rates of autism.

Name: Robert Nosearchimi
27 March 2015 - 6:05PM

taken to the logical extreme where someone grows up with very few possessions, he or she will be very attached to each of them.

Perhaps our parents teach us how to treat possessions and if they are important or not and possessions fill the same category as people to our psyche?

Name: Robert Nosearchimi
27 March 2015 - 6:33PM

I just did an analysis, and of the top 12 states in income of the US, four of them are in the top five for autism rates. Of the rest five are over average for autism rates and three are below average. The states are(in order of highest autism rate to lowest): Minnesota, Maine (an exception), Oregon (an exception), Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Indiana(an exception), New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Nevada (an exception), Vermont, Wisconsin, and Maryland. The exceptions have below average income.

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