In my previous blog, I discussed the effects of social isolation on health in general. Now I am continuing the topic with a sobering discussion on the life expectancy of people that have ASD. Although this topic is a bit unpleasant, it is necessary to look at unpleasant facts in order to improve the statistics.
After comparing a group of 27,000 autistic individuals with 2.6 million people without ASD scientists in Sweden discovered:
- People with autism spectrum disorder lived an average of 16 years less than those without ASD.
The average mortality rate during the 22-year span of the study was as follows:
- 2.5% for the group with ASD, <1% for the general population
The average life expectancy was as follows:
- 54 yrs for the group with ASD, < 40yrs for those with ASD and cognitive impairments, and 70 yrs for the general population
The leading causes of death for people with ASD were:
- Heart disease, suicide, and epilepsy.
The rate of epilepsy:
- 20%-40% in the group with ASD
- < 1% of the general population
The suicide rate for people with autism was 9 times higher than the general population.
Higher incidents of suicide and heart disease may be linked to social isolation and the constant stress of dealing with sensory sensitivities.
In light of this report, we need to provide more and better support systems for those with autism spectrum disorders and their families as these individuals age out of the school systems. Adults with ASD deserve a better quality and quantity of life.
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need support and/ or strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.