The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released the results of its latest autism spectrum disorder study, and autism is more prevalent around the world.
According to the study, one in every 36 kids in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. That’s up from one in 44 in the previous study in 2022 and up from the rate of one in 150 we saw in 2000.
The latest study was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and findings come from data obtained in 2020 from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. According to the data, the ASD rates range from one in 44 in Maryland to one in 22 in California.
What is causing the increase?
The increased rate is leading to the obvious questions: why is the autism rate increasing and what is causing the increase? Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer to either of these questions.
One potential reason for the increase in autism diagnoses is early detection. Several organizations around the globe have been working to identify autism cases early and work to get those kids any therapies they may need. This is something that comes with research. The more scientists learn about autism, the easier it is to identify. There is a natural increase that comes with knowing how to detect autism.
Could there be other causes for the increase in the autism rate? The simple answer is yes. But there’s a more complex part of that answer. Nothing has ever been identified as a cause. It’s certainly possible the causes could be hereditary or environmental, but the fact remains, we are just as in the dark about that now as we were when I was a kid.
Kids with autism not getting therapy
As we as a society have learned more about autism, it has led to an increase in services in most developed countries. Unfortunately, autism therapies were some of the many services that took a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When pandemic restrictions were implemented many in-home services were stopped. My son, Joey, was receiving 15 hours of in-home therapy a week. All of that ended abruptly in March 2020. We were fortunate enough to get him into some speech, occupational and physical therapies in offices that were able to take patients. It wasn’t easy to find, but he was able to continue some of his therapies, although the new settings took some adjustments. Not every child was as lucky as my son.
Many children who received a diagnosis were unable to get any type of therapy. As mentioned, most in-home therapies stopped, and the few offices that were still taking patients only had a few openings before they had to stop. There are many that may have been diagnosed in 2020 that couldn’t receive services until 2022.
Click here to find out more
Autism Diagnosis breakdown
According to this latest report, boys are still being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at a higher rate than girls. This is an area that hasn’t seen a lot of change. In the previous report, boys were diagnosed with autism almost four times more often than girls. The number is still pretty close to four times at 3.8 times. It’s still unclear why boys are being diagnosed more often than girls.
Most children being diagnosed are older than age four. That’s a number that has continued to stay pretty consistent over the years. A reliable autism diagnosis isn’t really available until age two. Still, it’s taking a few years beyond that for diagnosis. From a personal perspective, my younger son, Joey, was just shy of turning two years old when he was diagnosed. He was maybe two weeks away from turning two. In contrast, his older brother, Remy, was diagnosed after age seven. Why did it take so long to get one a diagnosis over the other? That came down to us. Joey’s delays were obvious, and we were seeking answers. Remy’s signs of autism were not as obvious, and we only started looking into a diagnosis for him once we were more aware of the signs and symptoms of autism following Joey’s diagnosis.
The biggest change in this latest report from the CDC is the racial breakdown of diagnosis. For the first time in US history, there was a higher percentage of autism diagnoses in Asian, Black and Hispanic children than white children. According to the latest numbers, the ASD rate among children of color is 3% compared to 2% among white children. Scientists are attributing this to early detection being made more accessible for everyone.
Worldwide increase in autism rates
The United States isn’t the only country that has seen an increase in the number of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. World Population Review broke down autism rates by country. Developed countries in Europe tend to have lower autism rates per capita, while Middle Eastern countries are seeing higher autism rates.
COUNTRIES WITH LOWEST AUTISM RATES:
COUNTRIES WITH HIGHEST AUTISM RATES
- United Arab Emirates
- Saudi Arabia
The latest findings show a definite increase in the autism rate and autism prevalence in the United States and around the world. Unfortunately, there is still no clear cause for why this increase is being seen. It’s also not clear how the stoppage of services during the height of the pandemic will affect children with autism in the long term. More has to be done to make this world a better place for people on the autism spectrum.