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UK national autism research study results published

Submitted by on 20 November, 2020 – 4:33 pm
The largest study ever achieved in adults living with autism was published today by the National Center for Health Information. The report, titled ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders in adults living in households in England 2007’ was written by Professor Terry Brugha, a psychiatrist with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Leicester with a team of Researchers in the UK.

This innovative study demonstrates for the first time an estimate of how many adults living with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in England. The study on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in adults shows that one in every hundred adults living in households that have the disease – roughly the same rate as above for children.

While studies have been conducted on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders among children, the report is the first attempt to find and include adults and seniors in the community with an autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger syndrome .

Professor Brugha, a specialist in assessing adults who may have autistic spectrum disorders like Asperger syndrome, run a diagnostic clinic in Brandon NHS mental health unit. Worked with a team of academics and researchers, including colleagues from the University of Leicester to develop a research program and a tool of the survey. The team interviewed thousands of people across England to determine how many adults in the general population is likely to be affected by ASD.

Months of analysis, much of which was held at the University of Leicester, and hundreds of face to face interviews and diagnostic assessments for the first time, captured the characteristics of someone with ASD, such as gender, age range , employment status, housing type and use of health services.

Until now, little was known about how those affected by autism in the course of a lifetime. For example, rates of autism might have been lower among older age groups, because people had been gradually recovering from the condition or died prematurely.

However, the study suggests that this is not the case and that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder remain generally level in all age groups.

Autistic spectrum disorders are developmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and severely restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.

The study of its prevalence among adults was a specific objective of the Psychiatric Morbidity Survey of 2007 adults, commissioned by the National Information Center of Health, funded by the Department of Health and conducted by the National Center Social Research (NATC) in collaboration with the University of Leicester.

Other key findings showed:

While 1.0 percent of the adult population has had an autism spectrum disorder, that of men was higher (1.8 percent) than women (0.2 percent). This was in line with studies among children, which show higher rates among males.

People who were unmarried were more likely to be evaluated with an autism spectrum disorder than other marital states.

Among men, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder was lower among those with a bachelor’s degree level than among unskilled workers.

Men rent your home from a social housing were more likely than those living in other types of housing that has an autistic spectrum disorder.

Adults with autism spectrum disorder were no more likely to use services for people with mental or emotional problems than the rest of the general adult population.

Commenting on the research of Professor Brugha, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, said;

“Accurate diagnosis of the number of adults with ASD is very difficult because diagnosis is based on behavior. It is much easier to diagnose children, parents are able to describe the behavior of their children in detail. Because the nature of the CIA, undiagnosed adults are much less aware of how their behavior is different from other adults. So this research is particularly significant.

“The report highlights the number of people living in our communities are not diagnosed with ASD, and illustrates the kind of lives they lead as a result. There is a real challenge for health commissioners in England to tackle inequalities in diagnosis and treatment for people who may have ASD. We are fortunate to have Leicester NHS facility dedicated to help diagnose autism spectrum disorders in adults, as early detection and treatment can make a positive impact on people’s lives. “

More information: While the main survey was published in January the research into autism prevalence required additional work and was therefore published separately.
Autism Spectrum Disorders in adults living in households throughout England, 2007: report from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2007 is at

Source: University of Leicester (web)

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