Autism Diagnoses: The Next 20 Years

Autism Q&A
560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the Louden on Autism Q & A. This week, I’m back to answer a question submitted by a website visitors to shed light on some of the most important questions about autism. I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.


Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.


This week, I received a question about autism and the future of diagnoses. Here it is…




If 1 in 68 children (1 in 50 males) are being diagnosed with autism what will the world’s population look like in 20 years? I am a 78-year-old and have has been in special education advocacy field for 35 years. I also adopted and raised my 17-year-old great grandson who has autism. What a learning curve it has been. Even though I thought I was well versed in disability understanding and advocacy, autism was a whole new set of rules and language. I daily watch the struggles my grandson undergoes to try and understand my world. What will life be like for all of us in 20 years?




For the most part, I believe the higher diagnosis rate is more anchored in our improving ability to recognize autism early, and in higher functioning forms. I wouldn’t be surprised if we found that better diagnosis and treatment meant that we have fewer people struggling, unemployed, or in jobs that make their mental health worse and their life experience worse.


In many cases I’ve observed older individuals, people from before we really started pushing to diagnose autism, that I’m fairly certain are exhibiting signs of being an individual with high functioning autism. There’s even one past supreme court justice, in reading both his opinions for the court and his personal thoughts on his life and experiences made me suspect he may be an undiagnosed individual with autism.


In some ways the high numbers are a crisis, but I feel it’s a crisis of “now we know how serious it is” rather than “it’s becoming worse and worse” and that it largely means that individuals who would slip through the cracks will now have the chance to address some of their challenges better, and live healthier, happier lives.


Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

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