Some Autism Facts

1) Owing to the lack of a central data base, it is not easy to find out how many people suffer from autism in Australia. However....

2) In 2007 the prevalence of autism in Australia was found to be ~1/160 6-12 year old children(1). : A more recent figure (2012) suggests that it could be closer to 1/100 children(2). In the USA, the latest (March 2014)(3)figure shows 1 in 68 now suffer from autism.

3) An internet based survey(4) carried out in 2008/9 in Australia and New Zealand showed that the average delay in obtaining a diagnosis of autism was 24 months with a median delay of 17 months. (n=228 responses). The delay refers to the time between a parent's first suspicion of something being not quite right with their child and obtaining a diagnosis.
Main reasons for the delay in obtaining a diagnosis were as follows (n=215 responses, some of which were multiple reasons)


Delay statement No. % responses
GP advised just normal delay and nothing to worry about 61 28.4
Paediatrician advised just normal delay and nothing to worry about 53 24.7
Unable to get appointment with psychologist earlier 45 20.9
Was told too young for assessment 40 18.6


4) The latest survey of Australian children receiving funding under the Helping Children with Autism Package (HCWAP) during the period July 2010 and June 2012 shows the average age of children under seven years of age diagnosed with autism was 49 months, whereas according to other research, it can be reliably diagnosed at 24 months(5)

5) About 5% of all children with autism are likely to carry the Fragile X gene on the X chromosome(6)

6) The Roadmap for National Mental Health Reform (2012-22) Priority 4 states that: "Early detection of mental health issues and mental illness followed by appropriate, timely intervention can significantly reduce the severity, duration and recurrence of mental illness and its associated social disadvantage, no matter when in life the episode or episodes occur. Early detection of mental health issues can;

  • improve people's prospects of completing education and training
  • increase their opportunities for securing and retaining employment
  • help them maintain stable accommodation, and 
  • minimise their interactions with the corrections and justice system. 

(1) Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Prevalence of Autism in Australia Overview and Report (Feb 2007)



(4) Parent Survey Report ASD Current Diagnosis, Therapies and their Perceived Effectiveness  Dennis Crowley July 2009

(5) Mapping the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in children aged under 7 years in Australia, 2010-2012 doi:10.5694/mja14.00328

(6)Schaefer GB, Mendelsohn NJ; Professional Practice and Guidelines Committee. Clinical genetics evaluation in identifying the etiology of autism spectrum disorders. Genet Med. 2008 Apr;10(4):301-5. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e31816b5cc9.