Rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continue to soar worldwide, with average prevalence estimated to be around 1.5% in developed countries. This estimate appears to be spot-on for Canada, which reported in March 2018 that autism (as of 2015) affected 1 in 66 children and youth (1.52%). These numbers place Canada among the “top ten” for autism among North American, European and Asian countries.
The Canadian public had been expecting the Public Health Agency of Canada to release these first-ever nationally representative ASD numbers since 2016. The data come from the National ASD Surveillance System (NASS), which, according to the Public Health Agency, is intended to pinpoint the number of young people diagnosed with ASD “both across regions and over time.” The Agency’s report provides answers on both fronts—showing steady increases in ASD prevalence since 2003 and notable differences across regions—but the document declines to speculate on factors that might account for the regional differences.