CALGARY, Sept. 25, 2014 /CNW/ - Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in children. Over the past 30 years, ASD prevalence has risen by 600 per cent. It is sometimes claimed that families living with ASD are migrating to Alberta to access higher funding for ASD support. Prevalence estimation has an important role in informing policy decision making and resource allocation. However, because prevalence estimates for ASD are reported at the national level, information on local prevalence has not been available for Alberta, until today.
In a ground-breaking report released today by The School of Public Policy, authors Laura Ghali, Carolyn Dudley, Daniel J. Dutton, Jennifer D. Zwicker, Carly McMorris, J.C. Herbert Emery, David B. Nicholas and Margaret Clarke provide the first ever prevalence estimate for ASD in Alberta. Using school records from Calgary and the surrounding area, the authors took a census of the number of students living with ASD.
"According to this study, 1711, or 1 in 94, school age children in the Calgary region are living with ASD," report the authors. "As this number matches what is often reported for the national prevalence of ASD, it suggests that Alberta's generous ASD funding is not inducing a migration of families seeking better support." Surprisingly, the data also show that prevalence is higher in elementary-grade children, with a diagnoses in 1 of every 86 children.
The study also reveals that 140 people living with ASD per year will graduate from support systems and encounter a "support cliff" resulting from a less generous support system available for adults. Given the extremely low employment rates and extremely high caregiving needs of adults with ASD, this is added cause for concern.
Local prevalence estimates assist policy-makers in planning for school supports, employment programs, housing options and other programs essential to improving the quality of lives for persons with neurological disabilities.
The report can be found at: http://policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=research
SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary
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