Autism statistics are continually changing depending on who is doing the counting and determinations. The media seems to like the statistic that 1 in 150 people have one of the autism spectrum disorders. All this means to me is that there are a lot of people in our society that ‘think outside the box’ and are great workers when they find their passion.
What employer wouldn’t like an employee who pays meticulous attention to detail, has intense passion for their work, and lacks interest in office gossip? People gathering autism statistics don't usually spend a significant amount of gathering this type of information.
“Typical” careers my not be a good fit but if you are a researcher, lab technician, investigator, or art historian, attention to detail and passion are very important. Museums, labs, and universities are full of single-minded, passionate people. To an academic, their area of interest, no matter how small, is desperately interesting.
Being content to be alone is a great attribute if you are a forest ranger, self-employed artist or writer, a gardener, or computer programmer.
Some autistic people can, with no effort, envision a 2-dimensional photograph as a 3-dimensional object. With appropriate training, such people are ideal candidates for jobs in areas like CAD (computer aided design), architectural model construction, industrial design, exhibit prototyping, and much more. The key is finding and supporting the training that can lead to such careers.
In a typical workplace, most people bend and break the rules. This is very tough for many autistic people, who need and respond to structure. But there are plenty of work places in which rules are absolute -- for everyone. In the military, hospitals and labs, rule-following is not only important -- it's critical.
Interesting test on mathematicians, scientists, and engineers where I would like to see more autism statistics gathered:
If you continue to dwell in this field of autism, sooner or later you will run across the AQ. AQ stands for
Autism Spectrum Quotient.
In summary, it is a questionnaire published in 2001 by Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, UK. It has fifty questions, with the goal to investigate whether normal adults have symptoms of autism or one of the other autism spectrum disorders.
Approximately half the questions are worded to expect an "agree" response from normal individuals, and half to get a "disagree" response. The subject scores one point for each question which is answered "autistically" either slightly or definitely. The questions cover five different domains associated with the autism spectrum: social skills; communication skills; imagination; attention to detail; and attention switching/tolerance of change.
“Normal” people in the control group scored an average of 16.4 (approximately 17 for men and 15 for women) on the test. Eighty percent of adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders scored 32 or more on the test. The authors determine a score of 32 or more as indicating "clinically significant levels of autistic traits".
The questionnaire was also tested on Cambridge University students, and a group of sixteen winners of the British Mathematical Olympiad, to determine whether there was a link between a talent for mathematical and scientific disciplines and traits associated with the autism spectrum.
Mathematics, physical sciences and engineering students were found to score significantly higher. They scored an average of 21.8 for mathematicians and 21.4 for computer scientists. The average score for the British Mathematical Olympiad winners was 24.
For people on the autism spectrum, the career choices need to remain as wide ranging as possible. Whether your autistic loved one is enamored with engines, music, washing dishes, or crazy about computers, gets a college degree or GED, there are career options available. Keep aware of your child's passions, abilities and needs, and the wide world of possible careers. They may already be acquiring the knowledge they need.
Stay aware that autism statistics are often subjective and your time would be better spent on assisting an autistic person in finding their niche in life.
Return from autism statistics
Autism Home Page