Sometime back, we interviewed Peggy Halliday from the Virginia Institute of Autism, and asked her this question, What is the average lifespan of an Autistic Individual? This is what she had to say in the below video excerpt of the interview:
Peggy Halliday explains, “There is no expected difference in the lifespan between individuals with autism and other people.”
However, recent research done by CHARITY Autistica tends to point in a different direction. According to them, a person with autism lives 16 years lesser than an average individual. For those with both autism and learning disabilities, the count increases to 30.
In the UK, approximately 700,000 people are affected with autism spectrum disorder, a condition that makes communicating and forging relationships with others a very difficult job. It’s worse for them who are affected severely; some even unable to verbally communicate or seek employment.
Jon Spiers (Chief Executive, Autistica) says that new research confirms the mortality rates due to autism. The inequality in outcomes for autistic people shown by this research brings in fresh-lot of controversies, but it is important to remember the real individuals and their families behind these statistics. Only this way the premature death rates can be brought down. As for the current times, a percentage among the autistic people never arrive at their 40th year.
What might the Root Cause Be?
Autism is a costly medical condition. Despite the controversies around the disorder and its possible causes and treatments, not much research has been done in this field until recently. According to some experts, restricted diets, a lack of exercise and high usage of medications could be factors that bring early deaths; add to it the traumatic experiences like social bullying and pressure to conform brings. All that boils down to depression and anxiety and it accelerates an early death, almost 40 times more due to onsets of neurological disorders like epilepsy and suicidal tendencies. The counts are just second to heart diseases as a cause. Only more research can tell us how to prevent such early casualties. Currently, around 66% of autistic adults are found to be suicidal by nature.
The charity wants to raise £10m for more research and put together a report (Personal Tragedies) on the public crisis. Aiding them with the endeavour is the Swedish Karolinska Institute. Autistica also wants to call in the Government for holding a National Autism Mortality Review in order to understand the causes behind the premature deaths and prevent further such occurrences.
Routinely collected government data is the only way to consistently record autism diagnosis and will enable the much-needed, large-scale research to prevent suicide risks and autism, which is the highest for autistic women with learning disabilities.