Autism spectrum disorders

7 November 2019

Key facts

  • One in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)(1).
  • ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood.
  • While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support.
  • Evidence-based psychosocial interventions, such as behavioural treatment and parent skills training programmes, can reduce difficulties in communication and social behaviour, with a positive impact on well-being and quality of life for persons with ASD and their caregivers.
  • Interventions for people with ASD need to be accompanied by broader actions for making physical, social and attitudinal environments more accessible, inclusive and supportive.
  • Worldwide, people with ASD are often subject to stigma, discrimination and human rights violations. Globally, access to services and support for people with ASD is inadequate.
World Health Assembly resolution WHA67.8: Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders

WHO response

WHO and partners recognize the need to strengthen countries' abilities to promote the optimal health and well-being of all persons with ASD.

66顺彩票appEfforts are focusing on:

  • contributing to enhancing the commitment of governments and international advocacy on autism;
  • providing guidance on creating policies and action plans that address ASD within the broader framework of mental health and disabilities;
  • contributing to the development of evidence on effective and scalable strategies for the assessment and treatment of ASD and other developmental disorders.

 WHO, in consultation with experts, parents’ association and civil society organizations, has developed a parent skills training programme which is currently undergoing field-testing.



(1) Mayada et al. Global prevalence of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. . 2012 Jun; 5(3): 160–179. 

(2) Wakefield's affair: 12 years of uncertainty whereas no link between autism and MMR vaccine has been proved. Maisonneuve H, Floret D. Presse Med. 2012 Sep; French ().

(3) Lancet retracts Wakefield’s MMR paper. Dyer C. BMJ 2010;340:c696. 2 February 2010 ().


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