Ever since Leo Kanner first described autism in 1943, the research in this field has grown immensely. In 2021 alone, 5837 SCOPUS indexed documents were published with a title that contained the words: “autism”, “autistic”, or “ASD”. The purpose of this study was to examine the most common topics of autism research in 2021 and present a geographical contribution to this research.
We performed a content analysis of 1102 abstracts from the articles published in 11 Autism journals in 2021. The following journals, indexed by the SCOPUS database, were included: Autism, Autism Research, Molecular Autism, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Advances in Autism, Autism and Developmental Language Impairments, and Autism in Adulthood.
According to the analysis, the main research topics were: mental health, social communication, social skills, quality of life, parenting stress, ADHD, Covid-19, self-efficacy, special education, and theory of mind. In relation to geographic distribution, most studies came from the USA, followed by the UK, Australia, and Canada.
Research topics were aligned with the priorities set by stakeholders in autism, most notably persons with autism themselves and their family members. There is a big gap in research production between developed countries and developing countries.