statistics-mental challenges

There is no survey in India which counts the number of persons with autism in India. The latest figures available are 1 in 250, which is based on a conservative estimate of the Rehabilitation Council of India, in 2004. RCI said in response to a right to information query that this “ratio may be based on the discussions during the expert’s meetings/seminar/conferences/press report”. (See RTI queries and responses page)

The actual instances in India may also be much higher.Read information collected on status of autism in India through right to information queries here.

Report Status and Prospects: An International Review of the State of Intellectual Disability Surveillance, Country Report: Indicators and Indices for South Afica. About India this report says ” Much of the official statistical data on disability is met with scepticism within the Indian disability community. Recent decennial, census-based data (from 2001) yielded prevalence rates for all forms of disability comparable to many national estimates of ID (1.85%). The 2002 National Sample Survey (NSS) reported the prevalence at 0.09% population (NSS, 2003). In contrast, a meta-analysis of 13 psychiatric epidemiological studies yielded an estimate of 0.69% (Reddy & Chandrashekar, 1998). Similar results were found in other meta-analyses of psychiatric conditions though rates were wildly variable in the individual studies, ranging from 0.14% to 2.53% (Madhav, 2001).”

Definition of Autism?

WHO – “type of pervasive developmental disorder defined by: (a) the presence of abnormal or impaired development that is manifest before the age of three years, and (b) the characteristic type of abnormal functioning in all the three areas of psychopathology: reciprocal social interaction, communication, and restricted, stereotyped, repetitive behavior. A range of other nonspecific problems are common, such as phobias, sleeping and eating disturbances, temper tantrums, and (self-directed) aggression.” (F84.0, Childhood Autism, World Health Organization, ICD Version 2007)


The first ever World report on disability, produced jointly by WHO and the World Bank, suggests that more than a billion people in the world today experience disability. It admits that across all countries, vulnerable groups such as women, those in the poorest wealth quintile, and older people had higher prevalences of disability. The complete report could be downloaded here.

A study published in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders, found that a region of the Netherlands known for high-tech industry has substantially higher levels of autism-spectrum conditions than two other regions.36 The study was conducted in Eindhoven, Haarlem, and Utrecht. In Eindhoven, 229 students per 10,000 had been diagnosed with an autism-spectrum condition. Comparing figures were 84 per 10,000, in Haarlem, and 57 per 10,000, in Utrecht. The same pattern held for autistic disorder (or “classic autism”) – the rate in Eindhoven was 50 per 10,000, as compared with 12 per 10,000 for Haarlem and 10 per 10,000 in Utrecht. (Read more at blog_wsj and here)

A new US government survey estimates that more children than ever have a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder. Overall, the prevalence was 110 out of every 10,000 children ages 3 to 17. See the News Report.

90% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, says UNESCO.The global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3 per cent, and 1 per cent for women with disabilities, according to a 1998 UNDP study. Read more disability facts here.

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Letter of MSJE dated 8 December 2003 saying "expanding the list of disabilities would shift attention and resources away from those whose need is greatest" 688kv. 5 Mar 14, 2010, 10:45 PM Manasi Dash
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Current concerns on state of autism in India 106k v. 4 Jan 29, 2010, 3:04 AM Manasi Dash