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Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a diverse group of conditions, related to brain development and marked by difficulty with social interaction, communication, and atypical patterns of activities, behaviors, and reactions to sensations. About one in 100 children has autism, which may be detected in early childhood, but often diagnosed only occurs much later1. This estimate represents an average figure, and some well-controlled studies have, however, reported figures that are much higher, and rising. The prevalence of autism in many low- and middle-income countries is unknown. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports autism as a human rights issue, as individuals with autism are often subject to stigma and discrimination, including unjust deprivation of health care, education and opportunities to engage and participate in their communities2. The reported prevalence rates of ASD have risen during the last three decades, both in the US and worldwide. Blaxill et al have reported that in the US future ASD costs increase dramatically: total base-case costs of $223 (175–271) billion/year are estimated in 2020; $589 billion/year in 2030, $1.36 trillion/year in 2040, and $5.54 (4.29–6.78) trillion/year by 2060, with substantial potential savings through ASD prevention3. It is therefore critical to advance knowledge related to ASD and there is a considerable body of important work emerging in this area.
This Topical Collection was created to bring together exciting new research on all aspects of autism, including neurobiology, genetics, imaging, pharmacology, neurochemistry, microbiology, translational and clinical investigation, epidemiology and public health. We will include both solicited and submitted content, utilizing all of our existing manuscript types.
Global prevalence of autism: A systematic review update. Zeidan J et al. Autism Research 2022 March.
Fact sheet: Autism Spectrum Disorders. Newsroom, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders.
Blaxill M, Rogers T, Nevison C. Autism tsunami: the impact of rising prevalence on the societal cost of autism in the United States. J Autism Dev Disord 2021 Jul 18. doi: 10.1007/s10803-021-05120-7. Online ahead of print. PMID: 34278527