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Autism Statistics You Need To Know in 2022

March 23, 2022


Autism Parenting Magazine realizes just how busy parents with kids on the spectrum are, so we’ve gathered all the latest autism statistics compiled from CDC reports, the latest autism research, and our own exclusive data collected from surveys sent out to more than 160,000 of our email subscribers.

Autism Quick Statistics https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autism-statistics/

Breaking down autism prevalence stats…

From 4-5 in every 10,000 in the 70s to half of all kids in 2025

Will half of US kids have autism by 2025? This prediction made by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, Research Scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), may be scoffed at by some, but the latest CDC statistics do indicate rising prevalence rates:

  • 1 in 44 (or 2.3%) of children in the US were identified with ASD using estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
  • These stats were based on eight-year-olds living in 11 ADDM Network sites in the United States
  • The 2021 prevalence estimate from data collected in 2018 is roughly 241% higher than estimates from 2000
  • The last estimate, reported in 2020, showed 1 in 54 kids identified with ASD. A mere year later the reported estimate increased to 1 in 44*

*It is important to note the lapse in time between autism prevalence being surveyed and reported.

Autism Prevalence Data Report

Gender, race and socioeconomic factors

Gender, race and socioeconomic factors
  • CDC data estimates a male to female ratio of 4:1 in autism, but other research suggests a ratio closer to 3:1 
  • Autism Parenting Magazine’s exclusive data reveals close to 6% of autistic children have some form of gender dysphoria
  • Autism occurs in all socioeconomic groups. In contrast to previous years’ ADDM data, socioeconomic status (as measured by neighborhood-level mean household income) was not consistently associated with autism prevalence
  • CDC data suggests prevalence is similar across racial and ethnic groups with some exceptions:
Autism Data Exception

Prevalence difference, from California to Missouri

  • Research suggests autism rates vary greatly across countries—and even among states in the US—cultural and methodological factors are probably behind these differences.
  • Examples include: California at 3.9%, Missouri at 1.7%, South Korea at 2.84%, France at 0.36%, and Qatar at 1.14%
  • Many developing countries do not have reliable autism statistics due to a lack of resources. This means most autism research is from affluent, English-speaking countries
World Health Organization Prevalence Data

Autism prevalence rates in adults

  • Many parents discover their own neurodivergence when seeking a diagnosis for their child
  • An estimated 2.2% of adults in the US are autistic, according to a CDC report
  • Consistent with estimates of ASD in children, California has the greatest (estimated) number of adults with ASD in the states surveyed in the US
  • Prevalence is higher in men than women
  • These adult statistics highlight the fact that autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition

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Do areas with higher prevalence rates have parents who are better educated and more aware of autism? Alternatively, are these areas, with higher prevalence rates, more accepting of neurodivergence, creating an environment where seeking diagnosis and intervention is easier with less stigma? We need more research but autism prevalence does seem to be influenced by:

  • Autism education, awareness, and acceptance
  • Better diagnostic practices 
  • Changes in diagnostic criteria

Causes and risk factors

Treatment, intervention, and support

ABA, CBD, PTSD Survey

At Autism Parenting Magazine we have access to exclusive data gathered from our database of readers:

  • While FDA-approved medication for treating irritability in autism is limited to  risperidone and aripiprazole, caregivers are increasingly turning to complementary and alternative medication
  • Parents, who give their autistic child CBD products, do so mainly to treat anxiety (42.9%) and challenging behavior (36.9%)
  • Of the respondents giving CBD to those in their care, 31.3% started using the product during the COVID-19 pandemic
ABA Survey on Meltdown and children communication
  • ABA therapy is controversial with some parents believing it to be the most helpful intervention for their child while others, especially adults on the spectrum, call it abusive
  • Speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and pharmacological interventions are some other evidence-based treatments for symptoms associated with autism
  • While autistic kids need support from family, educators, medical professional, therapists, and the community to thrive, it’s important to remember parents with kids on the spectrum also require extensive support
  • A study looking at support needs of parents with autistic children found mothers and fathers emphasized different aspects of support:
Autism Mothers

MOTHERS: Placed importance on qualities of professionals, respite from responsibilities, parent support groups, and counseling. Unmet support needs mothers deemed important include access to treatment and therapies for the child, education relating to autism, housework help, and involvement in family support groups.

Autism Fathers

FATHERS: In contrast, fathers placed more importance on assistance with the autistic child or teen’s social development. Unmet support needs fathers deemed important include time for relaxation and self-care.

Conditions and risks associated with autism

  • Research suggests around 40% of austistic children and adolescents have at least one comorbid anxiety disorder
  • Roughly half of all children with ASD may also experience symptoms of ADHD  
  • Children on the spectrum are more likely than neurotypical peers to experience sleep, gastrointestinal, and weight management challenges: 
Conditions Associated with Autism

x160: According to the above study, autistic children are 160 times more likely to die from drowning in comparison to the general pediatric population

  • Parents should be made aware that autistic children are twice as likely (as children who don’t have the condition) to report suicidal thoughts. The research suggests deficits in social communication may lead to lack of emotional connectivity which elevates the risk of suicide
  • Children on the spectrum are more likely than neurotypical peers to be the victim of bullying

Economic and psychological cost

Caregiving stress

  • The overall prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms is elevated in mothers of autistic children. A study found depressive symptoms in 72.5% and anxiety in 80.2% of participating mothers—67.1% suffered from both symptoms
  • Parents with autistic children experience more stress than parents with neurotypical children and parents with children with other developmental disorders. Stress levels are influenced by a number of factors including:
  • Parent characteristics
  • Child characteristics
  • Family and social support system
  • Professional support
  • Socioeconomic status

18.6% of the sample of parents of autistic kids met the criteria for a provisional diagnosis of PTSD

Economic burden of ASD in the US

Economic burden of ASD in the US
  • Costs are mainly driven by special education needs (37.2%) and loss in parental productivity (28.4%)
  • Considering the high cost of raising a child on the system, it is alarming that the study concludes by mentioning 25%-45% of respondent parents declared reducing working hours or stopping work altogether

Future predictions

  • Autism education, research, awareness, and acceptance seems to be increasing. This is illustrated by the growing number of peer-reviewed articles published on the topic of ASD. In 2003, 800 articles were published over a 12 month period. In contrast, there were 3,400 articles published over a 12 month period in 2013.
In 2003, 800 articles were published over a 12 month period. In contrast, there were 3,400 articles published over a 12 month period in 2013.
  • While such statistics are encouraging, parents worry more about their autistic child’s future and their own ability to care for their child as they age
  • A study suggests that although parents are aware of the need to plan for their child’s future, many had trouble initiating such planning
  • The study further suggests social workers need to be educated to help parents plan, and to separate planning into manageable bits; while supporting parents through each stage of the planning

Hope, growth, and possibilities

While these statistics should not be used to diagnose, treat, or make any decisions about a child’s care, they do reveal a little of what’s happening in the lives of autistic children. While some of the data may be concerning, there is reason for hope and optimism:

  • A study found most of the participating children, with severe language delays, did go on to acquire language skills
Acquire Language Skills
  • Recent research tells us that, by middle childhood, most kids on the spectrum may be doing better than we thought. In fact, 78.8% of school-age autistic children are doing well in at least one of the five developmental areas by the age of 10. Nearly a quarter are doing well in all areas.
78.8% school-age autistic children are doing well

The study concludes with the authors mentioning what most parents know instinctively: that doing well is possible even when a child continues to meet the criteria for ASD.

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