In 2018, WHO stated that 1 in 160 children had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and it is likely to occur 5 times more in boys than in girls (Ellison-Wright et al., 2015). Due to a paucity of data, the prevalence of ASD in low and middle-income countries is vague. In spite of this, Nigeria reportedly has a prevalence rate of 1 in 44 children (Lagunju et al.,2016).
The National Institute of Mental Health defines ASD as a developmental disorder that affects social skills, behaviors, speech and non-verbal communication. In 2009, Pierce et al., postulated that 87.5% of autistic infants displayed symptoms within their 1st years. ASDs are generally diagnosed as early as 3 years of age, and even later in developing parts of the world due to poor means of identifying and managing this condition. ASD currently has no cure, however, some major symptoms to look out for to help with early intervention are difficulty in communication, learning and exhibiting social skills.
With a dearth of data in low and middle-income countries, how can we encourage a surge in research in this field? What forms of treatment or management for ASDs are you aware of?