1:500 – The incidence of autism diagnosed in children during the 90s. It was also the decade Ryan was born. Today, 2013, we know that number is 1:88. The latest study by the CDC is now reporting that 1 in 50 children have autism. What does this mean and why the increase?
The 1:88 study was based upon the review of the educational and medical records of eight-year-old children. The latest study was a telephone survey of 100,000 parents of children between the ages of six and 18, who were asked, “Does your child have autism and at what age was he or she diagnosed?” The magnitude of the increase was greatest for boys 14-17 years of age. A 2011 study screened for autism among school children in South Korea and found a prevalence of 1:38. One of the unique aspects of the South Korea study is that all the children attending school were screened.
The rise in the number is not surprising. Children with moderate to severe impairments in communication and repetitive behaviors are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age, while those with deficits in conversational skills and relating to peers tend to be diagnosed at a later age.
The number 1:50 doesn’t replace the 1:88; however, it does indicate that 1:88 may be an underestimate and the actual number could closer to 1:38.
The increase in diagnosis has not resulted in increases in funding. In fact, funding in early intervention, public school programs and various health care services continues to decrease. We have identified the children but aren’t able to provide the services they need to maximize their potential.
It’s a catch 22: More children identified…Fewer services provided.
The statistics are alarming, yet collectively we as parents, friends, educators, researchers, and relatives can lead the charge in advocating for increased funding. Together we can make a difference. I encourage you to use links below to learn more about what you can do.
Check back on Thursday! We will move beyond the numbers as my son, Ryan, shares his perspective: “What does it mean to live with autism?”