Facts About Autism

Our knowledge of autism spectrum disorders is rapidly changing given the many researchers working in this area. The facts below are based upon current scientific understanding of autism. For a list of source materials please go to our Resources & Links page.

New estimates released by the Centers for Disease Contol and Prevention (CDC) indicate that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) occur in about 1 of every 68 children and about 5 times more often in boys.

Autism is a developmental disorder thought by scientists to have a genetic origin and there are some known environmental contributors to the disorder.

A family that has a biologically-related relative with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is much more likely to have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder than a family without this history.

Autism is the second most common developmental disorder behind only mental retardation.

Autism is more common than multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, childhood cancer, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, AIDS, and diabetes.

Perhaps over 60% of persons with autism also have mental retardation. However, some have suggested that nonverbal tests of intelligence would be a better index of intelligence in persons with autism.

Early intensive behavioral intervention has been shown to produce marked changes in the skill deficits and problem behavior associated with autism.

Data & Statistics 
Below, please find recent facts about autism compiled from sources including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Autism Society of America.
 1 in 68 births; 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls
 Over 2 million Americans affected by ASDs
 Fastest-growing developmental disability
 Growth comparison during the 1990s
  - U.S. population increase: 13%
  - Disabilities increase: 16%
  - Autism increase: 172%
 Well over $100 billion annual cost
 90% of costs are in adult services
 Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention