By bobb |

The latest Burden of disease study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) puts "autism spectrum disorders" as 14th for males in their list of non-fatal burden (of disease) - see Table 4.3, page 36. "Autism spectrum disorders" rank 3rd for males ages 5-14 years in the "total burden" given in Figure 3.6, page 26, but autism is otherwise absent.  This study is based on data from 2011. 

Autism comes after asthma and anxiety for males in the 5-14 year age range. Autism is pushed below 10th for males over 15 years of age.

Autistic females are not mentioned in this study report.

The study's autism estimates are based on the Western Australian Intellectual Disability Exploring Answers (IDEA) database. The IDEA database has not been described as a credible source for autism/ASD prevalence. Other data has shown autism, especially for Asperger's Disorder, diagnoses in Western Australia are substantially below the national average. Autism prevalence reports for Western Australia are distinctly lower than national ASD diagnosis rates, so the estimates of autism numbers that the AIHW used in this study are expected to be "conservative" (low - near 50% of the national rate).

The pattern of increasing numbers of autism/ASD diagnoses in Australia has continued since 2011 (see autism prevalence in 2015). 

In 2007, the AIHW published its first Burden of Disease report based on data for 2003. Autism ranked 15th for males non-fatal burden. Autism ranked second for boys and 8th for girls (ages 0-14 years). Autism diagnoses in Australia increased substantially between 2003 and 2011 (the number of diagnoses more than doubled) so it is remarkable that the AIHW's ranking of autism does not reflect such an increase. The AIHW may not be using the best quality data sources in relation to autism.