Autism’s Increasing Numbers

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Source: CDC

The Center for Disease Control says 1 in 68 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That’s a 30% increase in two years. In 2012 the estimate was 1 in 88.  The prevalence  of diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders is very high when compared to other childhood disorders. Autism Speaks compares autism’s prevalence to:

  • Type 1 diabetes – 1 in 400
  • Childhood cancer – 1 in 2,000
  • Cystic fibrosis – 1 in 3,500.

In fact, this year, more children will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.     These figures are broad strokes, and for many new parents scary. The cause of ASD is unknown. There is no known cure.  The starkness of the statistics does not mean there is no hope. There is treatment.

According to a report from CNN, this newest estimate is based on the CDC’s evaluation of health and educational records of all 8-year-old children in 11 states: Alabama, Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah and New Jersey. The incidence of autism ranged from a low of 1 in 175 children in Alabama to a high of 1 in 45 in New Jersey, according to the CDC.

(Other sources fior this article include the National Institute of Health (NIH), Health Day News, Psychology Today and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.)

Other Statistics


  • 1 in 45 boys has Autism (CDC)
  • 1 in 189 girls has Autism (CDC)
  • Between 2010 and 2012 there’s benn a 30% increase in diagnosis of the disorder in the US (CDC)
  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%. A study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. (CDC)


  • Nearly half of children with an autism spectrum disorder have average or above-average intellectual ability — an IQ above 85 (CDC)
  • 33% of children diagnosed with Autism a decade ago had an IQ above 85. (CDC)
  • Parents who have a child with ASD have a 2%–18% chance of having a second child who is also affected (CDC)
  • In identical twins who share the exact same genetic code, if one has ASD, the other twin also has ASD in nearly 9 out of 10 cases. (NIH)
  • If one sibling has ASD, the other siblings have 35 times the normal risk of also developing the disorder. (NIH)
  • The stress brought into a family by an Autism diagnosis can strain a marriage, but the divorce rate is much lower than previously thought. (Psychology Today)


  • Children with ASD can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 2, though research suggests that some screening tests can be helpful at 18 months or even younger.  (NIH)
  • On average, children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age 4 (CDC)
  • Studies have shown that parents of children with ASD notice a developmental problem before their child’s first birthday (CDC)

Economic Costs

  • Services for children with autism cost the United States $11.5 billion in 2011 alone. (Health Day News)
  • The lifelong costs of autism were conservatively estimated at $3.2 million per person in a 2007 study by Michael Ganz of the Harvard School for Public Health.
  • The public schools’ responsibility for providing services ends when a child with ASD reaches the age of 22. (NIH)    
  • The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found  that only half (53%) of young adults with an ASD had ever worked for pay outside the home in the first 8 years following high school, the lowest rate among disability groups even when controlling for impairment severity, household income, and social demographics.
  • The same study found only 34% were employed at the time of the survey interview.
  • And one in five worked full-time with average earnings of $8.10/hour, significantly lower than disability comparison groups. (The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
  • In addition to medical costs, intensive behavioral interventions for children with ASD cost $40,000 to $60,000 per child per year  (CDC).
  • 34 U.S. states have now passed “autism insurance reform laws. (Health Day News)

The children with ASD are more than statistics. When you’ve met one child on the Autsim Spectrum, you’ve met one child on the Autism Spectrum.  There is no known cure but treatment can help children reach their full potential.  With an emphasis on planned environments (milieu), and relationship building, FOCUS helps address the many challenges children, and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders are confronted with every day.