The autism rate by state in the USA is challenging to determine as it varies and is always changing. The variation in the prevalence of the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in each state can be dependent on ASD resources and knowledge available, among other factors.
Which state has the highest autism rate?
One way of determining the answer to this question is through a network that is made up of a group of programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Network (ADDM).
According to the ADDM Network, California is the state that has the highest prevalence of autism diagnoses, with it being 30+ out of every 1,000 identified children in 2018.
Which state has the lowest autism rate?
According to data collected by the ADDM network, there are two states with the lowest number of children diagnosed with autism (2018 figures). Those states are Wisconsin and Missouri.
It is important to note that there is no research that shows living in certain areas will increase the possibility of a child having autism. There are variations, such as how children with autism are identified, how the autism rates are collected and reported, etc. It is also important to note that diagnosis numbers might vary due to different socioeconomic factors in each state.
What is the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in the US?
According to the CDC and ADDM’s data they collected using 11 states across the United States in 2018, the national average of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was one in 44. The CDC releases this data every two years starting in 2000-2018.
The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder ranges from year to year and can be collected in different ways. Figures also track how girls and boys are affected and the rate they are diagnosed, as well as racial and ethnic differences, and geographical location.
Boys are four more times likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than girls. In previous years, non-Hispanic white children were more likely to be diagnosed than non-Hispanic black and Hispanic children, according to data collected by the ADDM.
How this data is collected can be affected by many different variables, including stigma, lack of resources, and lack of developmental specialists, and other professionals that could properly diagnose children born to underserved ethnicities.
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What ethnic and socioeconomic groups are more affected by autism in the United States?
According to a report by the ADDM network and the CDC, in 2018 there was no definitive difference in white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander children with an autism diagnosis. There were locations where Hispanic children had lower autism rates compared to other ethnicities.
With this data, having a varied approach and more effective outreach that is directed towards minority communities could help close this gap. With education and outreach, the stigma, lack of healthcare services, and language barriers could no longer be a roadblock and these children could receive services that help them reach their full potential.
Why is there a gender difference between children identified with autism?
The ADDM network states there is no clear explanation of why the prevalence of autism is higher in boys than girls. One thought is that males may genetically be at a higher risk of being diagnosed with autism.
Another reason for the difference in diagnosis rates could be the different signs and symptoms autism can display when it comes to gender. Autism is not always as easy to identify when it comes to females.
What could help alleviate barriers to diagnosis?
One reason that the developmental disabilities monitoring is done by the CDC and ADDM is to help with how data can be collected consistently.
When collecting data and representing different people, there isn’t always ample access to services or information. Some underprivileged communities don’t have access to the information and medical care of others locations due to poverty or language barriers.
Having different outreaches and education about autism and how it affects different people could help alleviate some of the barriers to diagnosis. The ADDM is working towards this, along with launching other resources to better collect data of those affected by autism.
Where do you live?
Where a child is born and where they live should not affect their likelihood of being on the autism spectrum, but it can affect their likelihood of receiving an official diagnosis.
There is research, by the ADDM, that suggests some locations offer more autism support than others. These areas may provide more early intervention programs and also have programs that span a lifetime.
The support each state has in place for people with autism can really vary. There are some places that support early diagnosis all the way through to young adults and aging adults.
Families can search to find what services may be available in their area. There are support groups for parents that can help them navigate through the autism journey.
Autism diagnosis: Where to start?
Talking to a pediatrician or family doctor is a good first start. The CDC states that there are programs that are trying to make medical access easier for individuals to get and maintain.
The medical professional should be able to point a family or individual in the direction to get questions answered and start assessments and treatments necessary for autism.
Also, finding local support groups can help. There will be other parents and caregivers that have someone in their life with autism and can give helpful advice.
The amount of autism information out there can seem endless. Support, consistency, access, education, and community are what can truly help families navigate through diagnosis and the needs associated with autism.