« ESSA Panel Weighs Rules for Testing for Those With Severe Cognitive Disabilities | Main | Head of Special Education, Rehabilitative Services Leaving Education Department »

Autism Prevalence Stable, But Varies Widely Among Communities, Groups

An estimated 1 in 68 8-year-olds have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the same prevalence rate that the agency found when it released a autism monitoring report in 2014. 

The most recent report is based on data that was collected in 2012. The 2014 report, which had the same prevalence rate, was based on data that had been collected four years earlier.

The CDC says it's too soon to say whether this latest report reflects a plateau in autism diagnoses, which until now had been on the rise ever since the agency started tracking numbers in 2007. The autism rate at the time of that first report was 1 in 150 children. 

autismfact1.JPGBut while the overall autism diagnosis rate remained the same, researchers saw wide disparities among the 11 surveillance sites that they monitor. For example, in parts of South Carolina 1 in 81 children were diagnosed with autism, compared to 1 in 41 in areas of New Jersey.

South Carolina and New Jersey are both among the monitored areas that allow researchers to examine both health records and school records to derive an autism rate. Some surveillance areas only allowed researchers to look at health records, and those areas showed a much lower rate of autism than the areas where the CDC had access to more complete records—suggesting that schools play an important role in diagnosing children with autism spectrum disorder and getting them treatment. 


The statistics also showed that black and Latino children are diagnosed with autism less frequently
than white children, and that boys are diagnosed far more frequently than girls. 

"What we know for sure is that there are many children living with autism who need services and support, now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood," said Dr. Stuart K. Shapira, the chief medical officer for CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, in a statement. 

Don't miss another On Special Education post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments