What we know about autism: Wendy Chung at TED2014

TED Blog

Wendy Chung. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Wendy Chung. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Wendy Chung of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative says that she is constantly asked the same question by parents: “Why does my child have autism?” It’s a question that plagues them whether their child has a severe form of autism, to the point of being non-verbal, or a mild one.

“Autism isn’t a single condition. It’s actually a spectrum of disorders,” says Chung. “And like it is a spectrum of disorders, it has a spectrum of causes.”

1 in 88 children is diagnosed with autism. But while it’s often called an epidemic, Chung isn’t so sure that it actually meets the criteria. She shows a graph of the number of diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder per year, and there does indeed appear to be a strong curve upwards, with the bars in recent years towering over those in the past. But this difference could be explained…

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