Random Autism Fact
Random Autism Fact

42 Interesting Autism Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published June 28, 2017Updated October 4, 2019
  • Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939), a Swiss psychiatrist, first termed “autism” but applied it to adult schizophrenia. In 1943, the term was redefined by Leo Kanner (1894-1981) who dissociated autism from schizophrenia to create the modern understanding of the disorder.[3]
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). They are also reported in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.[10]
  • Mutations on chromosome 16 have been tied to autism. The glitch is in a DNA region that contains “morpheus” genes, or genes which historically have changed very rapidly as humans evolved. In other words, the same method that helped evolve human intelligence may contribute to autism.[3]
  • Environmental factors that could trigger predisposed genes to mutate and cause autism are vast and could include certain drugs, chemicals, heavy metal exposure, antibiotics, extensive television viewing, flame retardant, or infections during pregnancy.[12]
  • A study from three states suggests that counties with higher precipitation levels have higher autism rates. Higher precipitation rates might carry more pollutants, decreased vitamin D levels, and increased television watching that could trigger autism.[15]
  • Little Known Autism Fact
    From the Greek autos meaning “self,” autism literally means “alone”
  • From the Greek autos meaning “self,” autism literally means “alone.”[14]
  • “Naughty Auties” is a virtual resource center for those with autism.[16]
  • Autism is more common than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.[18]
  • Researchers have found that the area of the brain called the amygdala was on average 13% larger in young children with autism compared with children without autism.[6]
  • In 2008, several autistic children from different families were linked to a single sperm donor called “Donor X.”[11]
  • Many scholars believe autism is a combination of genetic vulnerability that is triggered by some kind of social or toxic influence.[12]
  • Research suggests that having an older father may increase a child’s risk of autism. Children born to men 40 years old or older were almost six times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder than those born to men younger than 30 years old. Maternal age seems to have little effect on autism risk.[7]
  • Autism . . . offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by.

    - Dr. Colin Zimbleman, Ph.D.

  • One in 10 extremely premature infants tested positive for autism. Children who are born more than three months early have double the expected rate of autism.[14]
  • Many children with autism have a reduced sensitivity to pain but may be extra sensitive to sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation—which may contribute to a reluctance to being cuddled or hugged.[6]
  • Other disabilities that fall within the Autism Spectrum category include Asperger’s syndrome, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified), Rett Syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.[3]
  • As early as infancy, a baby can begin to show the three hallmark features of autism: communication challenges, impaired social interactions, and repetitive behavior.[6]
  • According to the CDC, 1 in 6 children in the United States has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In the 1980s, autism prevalence was reported as 1 in 10,000.[10]
  • Shocking Autism Fact
    1 in 6 children in the United States has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Children with autism may experience coexisting conditions, such as fragile X-syndrome, epileptic seizures, tuberous sclerosis, Tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, and ADD.[14]
  • Scientists are unclear as to why about 20% to 30% of autistic children develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood.[3]
  • Girls with autistic symptoms may be suffering from Rett Syndrome. The syndrome affects mainly females, because male fetuses with the disorder rarely survive to term. Development is typical until 6-18 months, when language and motor milestones are lost.[7]
  • Chelation therapy, which removes mercury from the body, is a popular alternative treatment for autism, though it has not been proven to be a safe or effective treatment.[7]
  • Some cases of autism may be associated with a family history of manic depression.[14]
  • Interesting Autism Spectrum Fact
    Is autism a disease or simply a difference?
  • Scholars and parents debate whether autism is a disability or whether it should be considered merely a different kind of personality.[7]
  • Though children with autism have higher rates of constipation and eating issues (such as repetitive eating), they do not have a higher incidence of gastrointestinal problems than other children, quelling a decade-long controversy.[20]
  • Autism was initially called “Early Infantile Autism” or “Kanner’s Syndrome.”[12]
  • Autism was added as a special education in 1991.[7]
  • In families with one autistic child, the risk of having a second child with the disorder is approximately 5%, or one in 20. This is greater than the risk for the general population.[6]
  • Researchers are unclear why boys are diagnosed with autism more than girls, but some think that the problem lies with the X chromosome, of which boys only have one.g[14]
  • Researchers recommend autistic testing if a baby doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months, doesn’t point or wave by 12 months, doesn’t say single words by 16 months, doesn’t say two-word phrases by 24 months, or loses previously acquired language or social skills at any age.[12]
  • Divorce rates are high in families with an autistic child. Researchers suggest reducing stress by ensuring an autistic child receives appropriate healthcare, setting aside time for a spouse, and creating a support system with other families of children with autism.[18]
  • Researchers have noted that infants who had early accelerated head growth were at risk for autism.[6]
  • If one identical twin is diagnosed with autism, the other twin has about 90% chance of develop an autistic disorder.[12]
  • Interesting Autistic Twin Fact
    Researchers continue to study twins to determine how genetics and environment both contribute to autism

  • Dogs have been shown to improve autistic children’s quality of life, independence, and safety. The presence of a trained dog can reduce aggressive behavior, calm the child, and serve as a link to the child’s community.[7]
  • Mothers who have autoimmune diseases such as type1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease have up to three times a greater risk for having a child with autism.[1]
  • New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the United States, with every 1 in 45 individuals being diagnosed and 1 in 28 boys.[2]
  • Roughly 20% of the U.S. population still believe that vaccines cause autism.[13]
  • People with autism are less likely to "catch yawns."[19]
  • Approximately 70 million people worldwide have autism.[8]
  • Strange Autism Fact
    Autism greatly increases the risk of drowning
  • Drowning is the leading cause of death among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).[9]
  • In 2017, Sesame Street debuted a character with autism named Julia. The puppet is the first muppet to be on the autism spectrum.[17]
  • About 1 percent of people on the autism spectrum have a mutation on the gene called SHANK3. Interestingly, as many as one in eight macaques on an island in the Caribbean also have a gene mutation on the autism-linked SHANK3, which has opened potential research opportunities.[5]
  • While a child can be diagnosed with autism at 18 months, the average age for diagnosis is 4 years old.[4]

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