New Prevalence Data Finds 1 in 68 Children Have Autism Spectrum Disorders

Numbers represent a 30% increase from previous estimates

March 27, 2014

One in 68 children in the United States are identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This estimate is 30 percent higher than the prevalence reported in 2012. CDC says that since the previous estimate (1 in 88 children identified with ASD), the criteria used to diagnose, treat, and provide services have not changed.

The surveillance summary report, "Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010," estimates that there are 1.2 million children under the age of 21 with autism. This new estimate is based on the CDC's evaluation of health and educational records of all 8-year-old children  in communities from 11 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The latest report confirmed many of the previous findings, including the fact that ASD is almost five times as common in boys than as girls (1 in 142 boys versus 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed). Also, white children are more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than black and Hispanic children. Experts credit that disparity to a difference in access to healthcare resources and well-trained experts, which they also believe explains why ASD prevalence ranges from 1 in 45 in New jersey to 1 in 175 in Alabama.

Read more about the new numbers at: 

 

These new numbers confirm that this developmental disability continues to be on the rise, which is why AUCD strongly supports a swift reauthorization of the Combating Authorization Act (CAA). The CAA targets every federal department, agency, and office that addresses Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) research, surveillance, and the development of evidence-based interventions in order to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and translation to services. The law has helped to expand research and coordination at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), increased public awareness and surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and expanded the interdisciplinary training of health professionals to identify and support children and youth with ASD and their families through programs of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The law was reauthorized in 2011 (P.L.112-32) and is scheduled for reauthorization this year. If no action is taken, the activities authorized under the law will expire on September 30, 2014.

AUCD is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs. Network members consist of:

  • 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), funded by the Administration on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (AIDD);
  • 43 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) Programs funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) within HRSA; and
  • 15 Intellectual Developmental Disability Research Centers (IDDRC), funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

These programs, located across the United States and its territories, are all part of universities or medical centers. Our networks, individually and together, have participated in the conduct of research, education, and training and technical assistance related to the Combating Autism Act. 

AUCD urges the Congress to quickly reauthorize the law before it expires. Continued collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors are essential to drive the innovations that will lead to improved identification, interventions, and services for people with ASD and their families.  Without reauthorization of the CAA, HRSA would have to terminate grants for training programs, intervention research, and State demonstration grants. With the increasing prevalence of ASD, we cannot scale back our national effort by letting provisions of the Combating Autism Act sunset. 

AUCD stands ready to assist Congress to introduce and pass a bill to reauthorize this important legislation as soon as possible.  If you have any questions or need more information, please contact me or AUCD's Director of Public Policy, Kim Musheno (kmusheno@aucd.org).