In May my dad sent me an interesting NPR article about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). It is about a prevalence study that was conducted in South Korea. In the US, the way that that the prevalence of these disorders is estimated is based on medical records. In other words, it constructs an estimation based on individuals that have already been diagnosed or are seeking some sort of medical intervention. But in South Korea, that country everyone attends public school, and using the standard diagnostic criteria of the DSM they were able to evaluate all the children across several school districts. The study finds that 1 in 38 children are on the autism spectrum. What’s really astounding to me about that is it means (if true) that two-thirds of the kids with ASDs in the US are not being diagnosed.
Here is a link if you’re interested in learning more – http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/05/10/new-autism-findings. Some of the Q&A (much of it parents calling in) was great too. One of the questions was about the vaccination schedule in South Korea, which is the same as the one we use in the US. Many parents spoke about the challenges for young children not having good social reciprocity, and the bullying and other challenges that they face with their peers as they move into early adulthood. It’s a tough story, but definitely worth it.
Here is the abstract of the complete article in the American Journal of Psychiatry.