School of Psychology
Florida Institute of Technology
The first national survey of the public’s knowledge and understanding of autism was conducted for the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida. The survey includes responses from 1000 men and women, 21 years old or older, randomly selected from throughout the nation. The poll has a plus or minus 3.1% confidence interval at a 95% level of confidence. The telephone interviews were conducted between August 1 and August 29 by GDA Education Research, Mount Pleasant, SC.
• With autism now the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, more than 80% of survey respondents say every state should have an early intervention program for children from birth to age three. An even larger percentage (83%) thought that finding a cure for autism should be a national priority. This at a time when the Centers for Disease Control reports that autism affects one in 150 children born in the United States.
• Nearly one in four (24%) respondents said that because vaccines may cause autism it was safer not to have children vaccinated at all. Another 19% were not sure.
The Centers for Disease Control says “evidence from several studies examining trends in vaccine use and changes in autism frequency does not support such an association. Furthermore, a scientific review by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that ‘the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.’ CDC supports the IOM conclusion.” [www.cdc.gov]
• About eight of ten (82%) respondents know that autistic people of all ages can benefit from treatment and 77% say behavioral therapists are key individuals in the treatment of people with autism. An additional 73% believe behavior therapies are the most effective way to get autistic individuals to maximize their capabilities.
• About four of ten (39%) survey respondents know a person with autism. They had a better understanding of the disorder, except for its cause, than those who do not know someone with autism. Those who know someone with autism are more likely (21% vs. 17%) to believe the disorder was caused by a preservative once found in childhood vaccines.
• Young parents feel better informed than older parents about autism and tended to be much more concerned that their children would be autistic. Nearly eight of 10 (77%) of all parents were either not concerned their children would be autistic or not aware of autism, For younger parents (ages 21-28), 63% were slightly, very or extremely concerned their children would be autistic. Only 10% of parents in their seventies and 14% of those in their sixties were slightly, very or extremely concerned their children would be autistic.
• Six of ten (61%) of respondents feel informed or very informed about health issues in general, but only 26% feel familiar or very familiar about autism. Those who described themselves as being very familiar with autism (9%) were more likely to consider it a high priority for funding (36%).
• Nearly six of ten (58%) respondents think the presidential candidates should have a plan for curing autism.
• About half of all respondents (48%) feel the national media do a good, very good or excellent job in keeping them up-to-date on health issues and research. Slightly more than half (52%) say the national media do an average or poor job. Nearly two of three (64%) respondents believe the media give less or much less attention to autism than it deserves.
• The 39% of respondents who said they knew a person with autism tended to be female (65%), white (75%), middle-aged (57% were between 29 and 58) and well-educated (54% had at least a bachelor’s degree).
• Respondents who were deemed to be knowledgeable about autism (as determined by those who responded correctly to 18 of 21 factual statements about the neurological disorder) tended to be women (62%), aged 29 to 58 (66%), married (75%), with children (86%) and well-educated with a baccalaureate and/or advanced degree (65%).
About Florida Tech
Florida Institute of Technology is a national, doctoral-granting research university with a special focus on undergraduate education within an enriched technological environment serving student scholars from all 50 states and 102 countries.
Comprised of six colleges -- Aeronautics, Business, Engineering, Psychology & Liberal Arts, Science and University College -- Florida Tech offers 172 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at its main campus in Melbourne, Fla., nine extended studies resident sites and through online and distance learning. All of its curricula combine rigorous, engaging coursework with dynamic laboratory and field experience.
Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary with a $50 million capital campaign, Florida Institute of Technology has recently broken ground on the innovative Scott Center for Autism Treatment, a multidisciplinary treatment, training and research center that will serve East-central Florida and beyond.
Florida Tech is among the top Southeastern colleges according to the Princeton Review Rating and was rated a top private university in Florida by the Washington Monthly College Ranking.
More Information: www.fit.edu
Ivy Chong, Ph.D. George Dehne
Program Director President
Scott Center for Autism Treatment GDA Education Research
Florida Institute of Technology Mount Pleasant, SC
Melbourne, FL 843-971-7759; 800-942-7427
Phone: 321-674-8104 [email protected]