There may be many children with undiagnosed autism
A significant number of children with autism and related disorders could be undiagnosed, a study has suggested.
A Cambridge University team looked at existing diagnoses - and carried out recognised tests to assess other children.
Of the 20,000 studied, 1% had an autistic spectrum disorder, 12 times higher than the rate 30 years ago.
Autism experts said it was crucial to have accurate data on how many children were affected by the disorder.
This is important research, which for the first time gives us an estimate of the number of people who don't have an autism diagnosis but may be in need of support
Mark Lever, National Autistic Society
The research, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, was carried out in three parts.
The scientists first looked at cases of autism and Asperger syndrome among 8,824 children on the Special Educational Needs registers in 79 schools in East Anglia.
A total of 83 cases were reported, giving a prevalence of 94 in 10,000, or 1 in 106 children.
The team then sent a diagnosis survey to parents of 11,700 children in the area.
From 3,373 completed surveys, 41 cases of autism-spectrum conditions were reported, corresponding to prevalence of 1 in 101.
This 1% rate confirms estimates from previous research.
They then sent the Childhood Autism Screening Test (CAST) to the same parents to help identify any undiagnosed cases of autism-spectrum conditions.
All those with high scores, plus some who had medium and low scores, were called in for further assessment.
The team found an additional 11 children who met the criteria for an autism spectrum condition, but had not yet been diagnosed.
The researchers say that, if these findings were extrapolated to the wider population, for every three known cases of autism spectrum, there may be a further two cases that are undiagnosed.
Professor Baron-Cohen said: \"In terms of providing services, if we want to be prepared for the maximum numbers that might come through, these undiagnosed cases might be significant.
\"It is important to conduct epidemiological studies of autism spectrum conditions so that the relevant services, including education, health and social services, can plan adequate provision for all those children and adults who may need support.\"
Mark Lever, National Autistic Society chief executive, said: \"This is important research, which for the first time gives us an estimate of the number of people who don't have an autism diagnosis but may be in need of support.
\"Getting the right support at the right time is vitally important and access to appropriate diagnostic services is crucial.\"
He said the NAS was campaigning for statutory guidance for diagnosis included as part of the proposed Autism Bill to try and improve improvement in local authority and NHS services.
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I recently read an article in the news about a Dr who is a leading expert on Autism, and yet he never diagnosed his own son, who has finally been diagnosed in his mid 30's!
Pretty pathetic I think!?
I've been reading a lot about Autism lately, and found that it is not uncommon for people to go through their lives and find out at a late age that they have mild Autism!
And I have started to wonder if maybe I have mild Autism!?
As far back as I can remember, (and I can remember sitting in my baby swing in the backyard!) I was always shy and introverted and had trouble making friends!
My childhood was mostly spent reading or playing with and taking care of my pets!
I was always an 'A' student, smart, but didn't know how to relate to others!
When I left school and got my first job, I had to learn to deal with people on a day to day basis, and for many years I managed to cope, but I've never been good around large groups of people, and when I moved to the city and went to pubs and clubs it was very hard for me to deal with it and I would end up sitting in a corner and feeling very uncomfortable!
When I accepted myself as Gay at age 18, I thought that was why I had always felt different, but I soon found that I am different to other Gay men as well!
I have never understood the way other people think or feel, and as a result, I often say or do things that annoy other people without meaning to, and then I'm left thinking, 'What did I say or do that was wrong!?'
I am now 52 yo, I live back in my hometown, alone except for 2 cats, I don't have friends, except for friends I have made here and have no social life!
I don't leave the house very often and when I do and have to deal with people, it isn't easy, they only have to say, 'How are you?' , and I don't know what to say!?
I'm also starting to notice certain things that I do without realizing that I'm doing them!
Like constantly obsessing about certain things, or constantly drifting off and staring at the ceiling!?
I have certain mannerisms that I tend not to notice, like wringing my hands when I feel a bit stressed or pacing up and down!
These are things that have always been a part of me, but I'm only just starting to notice them!
So I can't help but wonder, am I mildly Autistic, or am I just loopy!?
There is no one in this town qualified to tell me, so I guess I'll never know!?