The number of Australians with autism has increased nearly 80 per cent according to the latest ABS data. The Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers estimated that 115,400 people in 2012 had autism, an increase on the 64,000 estimated to have the condition in 2009.

The survey found that autism spectrum disorders were more commonly found in males than females, with males four times more likely than females to have the condition – consistent with overseas estimates. There was also considerable variation in the prevalence of autism across age groups, with a marked decline after peaking in the 5 to 9 years age group.

The greatest challenges for people with autism, the survey showed, lay with communication with 58 per cent reporting a profound or severe communication restriction. This was followed by mobility, (51 per cent). Additionally the frequency that people with autism required was high with about one-third needing assistance with self-care, mobility or communication on a daily basis. Further, about half needed assistance with cognitive and behavioural tasks on a daily basis.

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