Autism in China: 1%?

a phrase saying that autism is not part of rarely seen illnesses
"autism ∉ [does not figure among] rarely seen illnesses"

On April 2, 2022, the press conference for the “4th Report on the Development of Autism Education and Rehabilitation in China” saw the release of new statistical data on autism in the country. Experts present on the occasion confirmed that autism prevalence in the country is on the rise, and is estimated to be around 1% or even more. The organizers further stated that the results are in line with world averages and with statistics from Western countries – despite also highlighting an almost contemporary 2.3 % rate for the US. Yet, this reference to 1 % as the number of autistic individuals in China is not a new nor an isolated phenomenon. Ever since the beginning of the 2000s, a great number of domestic articles have been mentioning this percentage through direct or indirect quotes. However, it was only in 2019 that a Chinese academic study (Sun 2019) confirmed to have detected a similar percentage. As such, this seems to suggest that the idea of 1% actually comes from an application of foreign prevalence rates to the country. Finally, it is interesting to notice that, despite the persistence in the use of the figure, a recent governmental study on Chinese kids aged 0-6 and published in September 2022 has evidenced a prevalence rate of 7 ‰.


Sun, Xiang, et al. (2019): “Autism prevalence in China is comparable to Western prevalence,” Molecular Autism 10.1: pp. 1-19.


(Snippet posted by Jacopo Nocchi)