Autism: Out of the shadows, onto the world stage

This serious medical and social problem is growing exponentially but is not receiving adequate attention

Recent studies indicate that babies with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will constitute as many as one in every 100 births, showing a markedly growing trend. What are the causes? The Autism Center is organising the XI International Annual Conference – Autism. Challenges and Solutions – in Abu Dhabi, UAE (April 28 to 30) which aims to share discoveries and results of investigation carried out over the last decade.

 Described as “a serious medical and social problem” by the Autism Centre, this spectrum of disorders does not receive the attention it deserves in many countries around the world, in the words of the Center, “most countries”.

Pulling Autism out of the shadows

The conference, founded in Moscow, aims to provide a platform for sharing of knowledge and results of research but also provides an opportunity to reach a wider audience and to “pull autism out of the shadows”. Over the last ten years, the conferences Autism. Challenges and Solutions have launched important initiatives on ASD, focusing the conceptualisation of Autism as a phenomenon of the 21st century.

This year, researchers, doctors and experts from around the world will pool their latest experiences and discuss methods of treating ASD, alongside training workshops which will begin on April 27. This year’s conference will also be the venue to present the results of a unique experimental project for the education of children with ASD, which has launched a new model for inclusive education of the children with special cognitive needs.

The topic areas will be

Epidemiology of Autism

Socioeconomic aspects of autism

Diagnosing and classifying “autisms”

Autism intervention and therapy

Pathogenesis of autism

Behavioural science and autism

Neuroscience perspective on autism

Education of autistic people

Workshops and clinical seminars

Building the community


A growing trend

More conservative figures state that babies with some form of ASD constitute one in every 150 births, others as much as one per cent (one in 100) of the world’s population, so 80 million people. And these statistics are conservative: in New York/New Jersey, a recent study shows that the number of cases has risen from one in 150 births in 2000 to one in 54 today. And it is a growing trend. From the year 2000 cases have more than doubled in number in many industrialised nations (a rise of 241 per cent).


Because diagnosis is improving or is more prevalent in certain regions? Or because there is one, or more, factor(s) causing autism? Heritability (genetics) used to be considered the cause of 80 to 90 per cent of cases but more recent studies put this figure at 60 per cent. Some say the environment is an important factor contributing to ASD. The question arises, is it the food we are eating?

Emerging concepts suggest the influence of air pollution, vitamin D deficiency, gut inflammation, exposure to toxic chemicals and viral infections in childhood as contributing factors, while the influence of vaccines  (namely the MMR) seems to have been ruled out by the medical community.

Serious social impact

Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with some form of ASD than girls. Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a Research Scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) states that by 2025, half of the children in the USA will be diagnosed with some form of autism. Today, some regions show a higher prevalence than others, for instance California (one in 26 births) and The Republic of Korea (South Korea), one in 38.

40% of children with ASD are nonverbal, 44% have higher than average intellectual ability and 31% have some form of intellectual disability.

The enormous disparity in reported cases in different countries and regions is a strong indicator of the importance of increasing awareness and diagnostic techniques, and here lies the importance of the International Annual Conferences, Aurism. Challenges and Solutions.

For what appears to be emerging as a serious global issue with far-reaching consequences for the future, the importance of sharing knowledge and experiences cannot be exaggerated.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be reached at [email protected]

Subscribe to Pravda.Ru Telegram channel, Facebook, RSS!

Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey