Although ASD is estimated to be the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the US, it remains in many ways one of the most misunderstood. Given the uncertainty about the causes of ASD as well as the extremely broad scope of its symptoms, attempts to create a “typical” portrait of the disorder can often result in confusion. Nevertheless, there are many ASD facts and statistics available to us which can go a long way to helping improve our understanding of this unique condition.
ASD is often assumed to be a “children’s disorder” as its symptoms first appear by the age of three, but it is in fact a lifelong condition. Children with ASD will grow up to be adults with ASD.
ASD is a developmental disability, not a mental illness.
No single cause of ASD has been identified, but due to the fact that the condition often runs in families, experts believe it to have a strong genetic basis. ASD is not caused by poor parenting skills.
There is currently no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose ASD. The condition is diagnosed based on close observation of a child’s behavior and development. In spite of the importance of an early diagnosis, the average diagnosis is estimated to take place at four years of age, or even later for underserved and minority populations.
According to the most recent research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ASD currently affects one in 68 children in the United States. That rate has more than doubled since 2002, when one in 150 children were estimated to have ASD. The prevalence of ASD is currently believed to be increasing at a rate of 10-17% each year.
ASD is nearly five times more likely to occur in boys than girls. Rate of prevalence for boys is estimated at one in 42, girls at 1 in 189.
The average prevalence of ASD across North America, Europe, and Asia is approximately 1% of the total population.
The occurrence of ASD is not determined or affected by race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. ASD has been reported across all groups in each of these categories.
For families, caring for a child with ASD compared to a child without ASD costs an estimated $17,000 more each year. Costs include education arrangements, health care, therapy, caregiver time, and family services. Early diagnosis and intervention is believed to be able to reduce the costs of lifelong care by up to two-thirds.
The estimated amount of funding for ASD from the National Institutes of Health for the 2014 fiscal year is $190 million.
The estimated annual national cost for ASD in 2012 was $137 billion, including both direct and indirect costs.