According to official data from the World Health Organization (2014) 1 in 160 children in the world has an autism spectrum disorder. Back then, the WHO emphasized that this is average data and that in some well-controlled studies the actual figures could be much higher.
There is no data on the prevalence of ASD in low- and middle-income countries, but it is known that the number of autistic people has a steady trend to increase worldwide. There are many possible explanations for this apparent growth, including the development of information technology, the expansion of diagnostic criteria, and so on.
Unfortunately, statistics on autism in Ukraine still unknown, so it is difficult to say how many people with autism actually live in Ukraine. Tracking the rate of autism around the world is a considerable problem. This is because many countries do not monitor or report autism. There are also no specific criteria for assessing autism. Even if they were, there are many countries that do not have the resources to conduct evaluations.
For five years (2009-2013) the incidence of ASD according to official statistics of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine increased by 194%: from 0.55 to 1.61 per 100,000 children. The primary morbidity rate in Ukraine has been steadily increasing since 2006: in 2007 by 28.2%; 2008 – 32.0%, 2009 – 27.2%, in 2010 – 35.7%, 2011 – 21.2%, 2012 – 25.3%. The prevalence of ASD in the pediatric population has increased 2.84 times over the years, from 17.0 to 48.2 per 100,000 population.
Despite significant growth, the absolute prevalence of ASD in Ukraine remains significantly lower than in the United States and Europe. Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Lviv, Kharkiv oblasts and Kyiv accounted for 53.1% of cases initially diagnosed in 2013, while Volyn, Zhytomyr, Zakarpattia, Luhansk, Rivne Sumy, Ternopil, Cherkasy, Chernihiv oblasts and the city of Sevastopol accounted for only 13.5%. This allows us to predict a rapid increase in the prevalence of ASD against the background of improved diagnosis and implementation in clinical practice of modern diagnostic procedures.
According to the international company “Focus for Health” as of early 2019, the quantitative indicators by country look like this. At the top of the list is Hong Kong, where 372 children out of every 10,000 are diagnosed with autism. In other words, each of the 27 children in Hong Kong was diagnosed with this developmental disability.
South Korea has the highest rate of autism. In this country, 263 out of every 10,000 – or 1 in 38 – children diagnosed with autism. The United States ranks third. About 263 children out of every 10,000 received this diagnosis. This means about 1 in 45 children.
Autism in other countries includes (cases):
- Japan: 1 in 55
- Ireland: 1 in 65
- Switzerland: 1 in 69
- Canada: 1 out of 94
- Denmark: 1 in 145
- Singapore: 1 in 149
- Belgium: 1 of 167
- Estonia: 1 of 167
- Finland: 1 in 185
Norway: 1 in 196
It is worth mentioning that there may be countries that have higher levels of autism than those listed. Again, due to the lack of universal criteria and other factors, not all countries have the data needed to fully estimate the number of autism cases worldwide.
The need for the development of correctional services, access to education, employment of people with mental disorders is becoming increasingly important. Today in Ukraine there is a lack of qualified specialists to work with such children and adults. Complete information about the causes and consequences of autism, correctional techniques and features of their use, services offered, etc. is not enough also. In addition, often such information is being presented in an incomplete and simplified form, which leads to its primitive and superficial perception by parents and professionals and this, in turn, inevitably affects the quality and effectiveness of correctional work with children.
In recent years Ukraine has made significant progress in this direction, which is confirmed in our surveys by parents of children with autism (see the results of the 2019 Autism and Education survey on the website), a halfway is impossible – it will lead to a rapid leveling of the results already achieved.
All experts in this field – both Ukrainian and foreign – do not tire of emphasizing the special importance of parents and families in the development of children with autism, which can reach up to 70% of success in the process of education, upbringing and adaptation of children. And this is always worth remembering. No matter how highly qualified the professionals involved in dealing with your child are, they will never replace her parents and the functions entrusted to the family in the upbringing of all children, including special ones.