Autism Prevalence, Research And The Historical Viewpoint

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Autism Prevalence, Research and the Historical Viewpoint

Historically, from the published accounts of autism, it has been a male orientated disorder (Thompson et al., 2003; Werling and Gerschwind, 2013). It first came to light in the early 1940s and during this period Doctor Leo Kanner introduced the idea of “early infantile autism” (Kanner, 1943), this previously unreported model of behaviour was characterised by significant impairment in the areas of social interaction and communication, and extreme resistance to change and lack of adaptability (Wing and Potter, 2002). Following on from this, in 1944 Hans Asperger, a child psychologist and pediatrician, described a similar syndrome, but with milder functional impairments, he labelled
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Until relatively recently is has been widely accepted boys were four times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls (Whiteley, et al., 2010). This idea is supported by an evaluation of forty three studies into pervasive development disorders conducted by Fombonne (2003), the study was longitudinal in nature and spanned a forty year period, the median ratio of males to females with ASD found was 4:1 Nevertheless, more recently, current studies which incorporate females within their samples, suggest the male-female ratio may be closer to 2:1 (Frazier et al., 2014; Idring et al., 2014; Halladay et al., 2014). Indicating results from previous research may possess an intrinsic bias in terms of gender, as historically the majority of enquiries have not included females within their sample (Thompson et al., 2003; Van Wijngaarden-Cremers et al., 2013).

Alongside the overarching male dominance in diagnosis, there is a greater disparity in the male-female differential for high functioning autism and Aspergers, than for individuals with a comorbid intellectual disability (Fombonne, 1999; Fombonne et al., 2011). The higher prevalence of autism in males at the high functioning end, compared to those with intellectual disability, led to researchers to

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