Tuesday 23 May 2017

Autism rates country-by-country (specific article)

I just came across this article in an autistic group I'm in on Facebook and it really got my hackles up.

11 Countries With the Highest Rates of Autism in the World

This is my reaction to it:

Bottom line: really crap article.

Talk about fearmongering! The language in this article is horrific! This whole article is disgraceful.

"The phrase "taking its toll", like we're a burden and nothing else - UGH.

Then there's "The prevalence of autism is on the alarming rise" - where's the evidence? The article's author seems to be completely incapable of differentiating between prevalence and diagnosis rates.

"autism is far more likely to affect boys than girls, a fact that is still unexplained" - not *far* more likely, and this difference is largely because females are so underdiagnosed (which this article completely fails to take into consideration).

Why the hell bring the repeatedly-debunked MMR "link" into it? Why even mention the MMR vaccine? This makes me really wary of the author's agenda.

The age group from which data was taken varies from country to country, so of course that's going to have an impact on rates - it's likely that ones with younger children and fewer older children will be higher because of better diagnosis rates among younger children as knowledge and understanding develops and expands. Not a particularly good method of comparison.

Ditto from the year when the data was taken - there's a huge range of years (for example, Denmark was from 2011, Sweden's from 1999, a gap of 12 years, 12 years in which knowledge and understanding of the full extent of the autistic spectrum changed and improved massively). You cannot justifiably use this as a reliable means of comparison.

Same for data-pool size and geographical area - they vary far too much. Some are just from one city, others nationwide. Rates will probably differ between a city-wide and a nation-wide scale, especially if there are good, autistic-friendly schools in a particular city and not so much on a national scale.

The data available does not allow for a valid comparison, the vaccine comment was completely unnecessary and the language in the introduction (pre-country-by-country stats) is pure fearmongering, like we're something to hate and be afraid of.

What are your thoughts on the quality, accuracy and tone of the article?

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