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Autism Now Affects 1 in 54 Children in the U.S.

Today the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released its newest findings from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, an ongoing surveillance system that provides estimates on the prevalence of autism.

According to its findings published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1 in 54 children in the U.S. have an autism diagnosis, a nearly 10% increase from its 2018 report

The findings are based on a 2016 data review of health and educational records for 8-year-olds living in 11 communities across the United States.

Specifically, the newest findings show:

  • Autism now affects 1 in 54 children in the U.S with estimates ranging from 1 in 76 in Colorado to 1 in 32 in New Jersey
  • The rate increased nearly 10 percent from 2014
  • Of the 1 in 54 diagnosed with autism, a third are classified as having an intellectual disability
  • While children can be diagnosed with autism at age 2, the median age in children at time of diagnosis was over 4 years old
  • No difference was found in rates between black and white children, but a gap remains in prevalence among Hispanic children
  • The findings echoed numerous studies that indicate autism affects boys 4 times more often than girls, though this is based on standard diagnostic criteria that has not yet adjusted for the unique traits in females

At the National Autism Association, we represent those with autism who face significant communication challenges, intellectual disabilities, aggressive and high-risk behaviors, and comorbid medical conditions that threaten their daily lives. The ongoing increase in numbers underscores the need for stronger research, services, and preparations for the influx of adults who will need employment, residential support, and quality services across their lifespan.

Autism prevalence is still on the rise and remains an urgent public health concern in need of a comprehensive federal plan.