46 percent of Americans had no idea that April, every year, is celebrated as Autism Awareness Month, leading to overarching misconceptions about the disorder
NEW YORK – Autism affects one out of every 68 children, according to the CDC, however, according to new research from Leka, a smart robotic toy for kids with Autism, our population is surprisingly unaware of the day-to-day challenges that people with Autism face on a continual basis. In honor of Autism Awareness Month this April, Leka looked to uncover the missing pieces between Americans’ awareness and perceptions of the disorder to better understand how they view Autism in general given its prevalence in society today.
The study, conducted with third party research firm YouGov, revealed not only the glaring gap of awareness, but also a lack of understanding and general misconceptions about people with Autism.
The Autism Awareness Gap and Misconceptions
According to Leka’s research, 75 percent of Americans claim that they do not know someone close to them with Autism, a surprising finding given the prevalence of Autism in children. In addition, nearly half of Americans (46%) had no idea that April is celebrated as Autism Awareness Month – moreover, even among those who are close to an individual with Autism, a quarter (25%) were not aware.
The data clearly shows a lack of awareness and first-hand knowledge of Autism and those who live with the disorder. This awareness gap results in general misconceptions about those living with the disorder:
- Shockingly, only 62 percent of Americans think people with Autism are capable of living independently
- Further proving general misunderstandings of the learning and social challenges associated with Autism, only 62 percent believe people with Autism are productive members of society
- Even more alarming, just over half of Americans (53%) think it’s acceptable for people with Autism to get married, with only a third (37%) of Americans think people with Autism can make great parents
- Less than half (48%) think people with Autism can excel in an office environment
The Silver Lining
While there is clearly dire need for a new approach to awareness campaigns around Autism to build better education programs and incite action and acceptance, there is an upswing to the data. While more work needs to be done to improve general perception and understanding of those with Autism, Americans largely agree that there has to be accessible medical care and programs.
In a time where healthcare reform is a hot political topic, two-thirds of Americans (66%) think health insurance companies should cover all expenses relating to therapy and treatment for individuals with Autism as a federal mandate. Inversely, looking at the situation today only 28 percent of Americans think today’s available options for services and treatment are deemed accessible (covered by health insurance)—a shocking revelation considering that the average cost for Autism treatment over the course of an American’s lifetime is over $2 million.
“With the prevalence of Autism in America, and the world, it’s essential that we are teaching our children, friends and family the important of advocacy and acceptance of people with Autism,” said Ladislas de Toldi, CEO and cofounder at Leka. “Although Autism Awareness Month is a great time to promote education for the 3.5 million Americans currently living with Autism, the disorder does not only exist during the month of April—and the data from our report shows that more work needs to be done to increase overall acceptance and understanding of Autism in society today.”
Leka commissioned YouGov PLC – a third party, professional research and consulting organization—to poll the views of a representative sample of 1,113 American adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between April 6th and 7th, 2017. The survey was carried out online, and was weighted to be representative of all US adults (aged 18+).
Leka is a robotic smart toy set on changing the way children with developmental disorders learn, play and progress. Available for direct purchase online, Leka is an interactive tool designed to make communication between therapists, parents and children easier, more efficient and more accessible. Working with and adapting to each child’s own needs and abilities, Leka is able to provide vital feedback to parents and therapists on a child’s progress and growth. Founded in France with more than two years in R&D and currently enrolled in the 2016 Sprint Accelerators Techstars program, Leka will be first available for purchase by consumers on Indiegogo in April 2016.
For more information, please visit www.leka.io