Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) Statistics

The latest statistics concerning the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in the United States has just been published on March 30, 2012. It covers the period of 2008 and children aged 8 years were studied. The diagnosis of an ASD was made by studying information obtained from children’s evaluation records anytime from birth until age when the child turns 8 years. A child was included in the statistics as having an ASD if they displayed behaviors consistent with the DSM-IV-TR criteria for the following conditions: Autistic Disorder; Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD(NOS)); or Asperger Disorder.

Before discussing the ASD statistics it is important to review just how common developmental disabilities are for children. The simple fact is developmental disabilities in children are very common.

The journal Pediatrics in 2011 published data on the prevalence of developmental disabilities for children living in the United States for the years 1997 to 2008. Overall, 1 in 6 children had a developmental disability. Children aged 3 to 17 years were included and the information was based on parent reports of diagnosis including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; intellectual disability; cerebral palsy; autism; seizures; stuttering or stammering; moderate to profound hearing loss; blindness; learning disorder; and/or other developmental delays. Boys had a higher prevalence overall then girls. Children from low income households and those with public health insurance also had a higher prevalence of disabilities. The overall prevalence for boys and girls increased from 12.8% to 15% over the 12 years.

ASD Statistics:

  • 1 in 88 children are identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The previous Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimate was 1 in 110 children.
  • 1 in 75 children in Pennsylvania have an ASD. In Utah 1 in 47 and in Alabama 1 in 210. The diagnosis of ASD is more likely when educational records are available and the
  • ASDs are 5 times more common in boys (1 in 54) than girls (1 in 252) and are present throughout the world with an average prevalence of 1 in 100 (1%). There have been reports from South Korea of  an average prevalence of 1 in 38 (2.6%).
  • ASD prevalence is highest among non-Hispanic white children compared with other racial/ethnic groups.
  • For identical twins if one child has an ASD there is a 36-95% chance of the other child having an ASD. For a fraternal twin the risk is 0-31%.
  • Parents who have a child with an ASD have a 2-18% chance of having another child who is also effected.
  • The majority of children identified as having an ASD do not have an intellectual disability.
  • Children born to older parents are at higher risk for ASDs.
  • A small percentage of children born prematurely or with low birth weight are at greater risk for having an ASD.
  • 83% of all children with an ASD have an associated developmental, psychiatric, neurologic, chromosomal or genetic diagnosis.
  • The diagnosis of ASDs under the age of 2 years is reliable.
  • 18% of all children diagnosed as having an ASD are diagnosed by the age of 3 years.
  • Most children are not diagnosed as having an ASD until after age 4 years.
  • Parents of children who are diagnosed as having an ASD notice a developmental problem before the age of 1 year.
  • Medical expenses for a child with autism are 4-6 times greater than those without an ASD.
  • Children with an ASD have medical expenditures $4,000 to $6,000 per year greater than for children without an ASD.
  • Intensive behavioral interventions cost $40,000 to $60,000 per year for a child with an ASD.
  • The medicaid cost for a child with an ASD was six times higher per year than for a child without an ASD (Average cost $10,709).