One key component of such estimates is "lost productivity" due to lack of employment and related metrics. I've pointed out that old data on the employment rate of adult autistics no longer applies. If you want to come up with cost estimates based on an ASD prevalence of 0.6% or 1%, you have to know the employment rate that corresponds to the ASD criteria that results in said prevalence. You can't just look at diagnosed adult autistics, and hope they are representative of all adult autistics, especially considering autism has been very much under-recognized in the past.
Of course, data that addresses this objection was not available until recently. That did not stop me from coming up with a guesstimate, though. I suggested that perhaps 70% of autistic children diagnosed today might end up being employable a generation from now.
I think it was clear in the blog post that this was a rough estimate extrapolated from other trends. The estimate, predictably, was met with accusations that I trivialize the challenges of autistics and so forth, specifically from Jon Mitchell. It seems that whenever I do some math or look up figures in the literature, I'm automatically engaging in trivialization.
Jon was of course "mystified" as to how I came up with the 70% figure, and implied that it's unbelievably high. Whenever he wants to snipe at me, this is the one thing Jon likes to bring up. He also proclaims I'm "one of the more prominent ND bloggers" so he gets to criticize not just me, but he probably thinks he's criticizing the entire neurodiversity movement in the process.
Readers are probably aware by now that the UK National Health Service recently released its first report on a prevalence study of autism in adults living in private households. The report includes some data on employment, but all the report says about it is this:
No significant variation in rate of ASD by economic activity status was found.
That's interesting enough by itself, but let's look at data from Table 2.4. There are 3 groups of persons considered in the study: Those in employment, those who are unemployed, and those who are economically inactive. The following is the prevalence of ASD in each group:
In employment: 0.9%
Economically inactive: 1.5%
The report also gives a "base" population, which consists of all persons from phase 1 who had been assigned a near-zero probability of ASD. You may recall that 7461 respondents were interviewed in phase 1. The base population consists of only 5998 persons, divided as follows:
In employment: 4492
Economically inactive: 1215
The base population is not exactly representative of the general population (it's more "non-autistic" than normal if you will) but it will have to do. I will use it to estimate rates of employment and unemployment in autistics and non-autistics, as shown in the following table.
|In Employment||Unemployed||Economically Inactive|
There are some differences, but the study authors didn't find them to be statistically significant. In any case, it would seem that adult autistics who live in private households across the UK are largely productive individuals who contribute to the economy in a manner similar to their non-autistic peers.
Of course, this particular report doesn't tell us about autistics who live in "communal establishments." I've suggested that when all is said and done, pooled prevalence of ASD might turn out to be around 1.3%. Even if all autistics who live in communal establishments are considered unemployed, total unemployment among autistics might be around 35%.