Latest News » Increased autism awareness linked to higher diagnosis rates

Autism awareness is growing.

Public awareness of autism has increased exponentially in recent years, thanks in part to high profile events like the Night of Too Many Stars, a celebrity-laden charity affair dedicated to the autism spectrum. In addition to encouraging greater compassion and understanding among the general population, autism awareness efforts may have benefits for diagnosis and treatment, according to a new study.

A press release from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative announced that diagnosis rates for autism have increased dramatically from 1995 to 2010, and researchers are speculating that this may be a good thing. Prevalence may be growing, but it’s also likely that physicians and family members are getting better at identifying symptoms at an earlier stage. This can pave the way for more effective treatment through behavioral therapy and specialized nutrition for autism.

“There’s much more awareness of autism,” explained Professor Maureen Durkin of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “There’s much more screening going on. And the newer generation of clinicians are being trained in this so they are more likely to see it.”

Autism rates are considerably higher among boys, and new research has shown that this correlation may be directly linked to brain health and structure. However, the number of female patients being diagnosed has increased more notably over the years, which may be tied to a better understanding of how the condition affects girls – and, simply, that it can and does affect females. Recent research has indicated that girls and boys with autism may require more specialized support in managing this condition, and the more we learn about its gender-specific machinations, the better treatment and support will be.

Check back for more updates on autism research.