The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released new data stating that 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This number is a 30% increase from data released in May 2012 that identified 1 in 88 children as having autism. It is 120% higher than the numbers reported in 2000 and 2002, which identified 1 in 150 children as having autism. In 1980, only 1 in 10,000 children was diagnosed with autism.
This latest report also confirm that boys are 5 times more likely to have ASD than girls (1 in 42 boys vs. 1 in 189 girls). New data shows that white children are more often diagnosed with autism than are African-American or Latino children, indicating that minority communities may not have access to the same resources for diagnosis and early intervention.
The report also shows that nearly half (46%) of children who have autism have average or above average IQ scores. This data disproves commonly held beliefs that most people who have autism also have an intellectual disability.
The numbers show a steady and alarming increase in autism, but the CDC does not offer answers to the complex mystery of what causes autism.
Note: During Autism Awareness Month (April), "The New Normal" will be offering many perspectives about living with autism, interventions to support children and their families and how the Jewish community can best respond to this epidemic.