Autism Research lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse and important topics related to autism.
On 25 March 2015, Maureen Durkin discussed trends in the prevalence of autism and explored some of the reasons underlying the recent rise in autism cases.
Her talk was part of the Simons Foundation Autism Research lecture series.
Once considered an extremely rare childhood mental disorder, autism is now recognized as a common neurodevelopmental disability, affecting more than 1 percent of the population in the U.S. Reasons for the rise in prevalence are not fully understood, but they are likely associated with societal and cultural influences, and the expansion of the concept of autism to a spectrum disorder: autism spectrum disorder.
In this lecture, Maureen Durkin discussed trends in the prevalence of autism, focusing on the role of intellectual disability — both as a co-occurring condition with autism and in terms of using autism as a diagnostic substitute for intellectual disability. She also explored evidence of socioeconomic disparities in access to diagnostic and therapeutic services for autism, the cultural and financial barriers underlying these disparities, and the need to incorporate modern concepts of disability into the epidemiology of autism, placing emphasis not only on primary prevention of impairments but also on enhancement of functioning and social inclusion of people with the disorder.