A few years ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a surprising announcement that 1 in 88 children was diagnosed with autism. The most recent data shows another increase, to 1 child in 68 being diagnosed with autism in 2010. This is an almost 30 percent increase over two years. This includes high functioning forms of ASD, such as Asperger’s syndrome.
Data for the study is compiled based on the medical and, where available, educational records in 11 study sites across the United States. The CDC points out that these sites are not necessarily ar representation of the U.S. population and that the data reports on these sites without drawing conclusions about other areas. One of the reasons is because of the vast difference between the sites. For example, the highest rate of autism was noted in New Jersey, with 1 out of 45 children being diagnosed with autism. In Alabama, however, that number was much lower, with 1 out of 175 children diagnosed with autism. This difference is, at least in part, explained by the amount of community resources available for identifying and diagnosing autism.
Other information remained in line with previous data:
- Boys continue to be diagnosed five times more often than girls. Overall 1 in 42 boys were diagnosed while only 1 in 189 girls were diagnosed.
- The data also showed racial discrepancies. White children were more likely to be diagnosed than either Hispanic or black children.
- While it is possible to diagnose ASD at the age of two, most children were not diagnosed until at least 4 years of age.
More children with average or above average intelligence (an IQ of above 85) are diagnosed with autism now than previously. Ten years ago, about one-third of children diagnosed were average or above average intelligence, while in the most recent data that number jumped to about one-half.
The disparity between areas shows a need for standardized measures to diagnose and assess ASD. The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network also recommends improving recognition and documentation of symptoms in children with autism, especially those with average or above average intelligence. Additional recommendations include increasing information about children of different races and decreasing the age of initial diagnosis so children can receive supports and services at an earlier age.
Published On: March 31, 2014