Note: Investigative reporter Richard Moore of The Lakeland Times featured AofA's Mark Blaxill in this recent article. A second article that ran yesterday is also excerpted below, titled, Autism numbers spike: The latest call to action
By Richard Moore
Autism rate jumps to 1 in 36 U.S. children ASD spikes by 23.2 percent in two years in parental survey
In the highest reported percentage ever for autism prevalence in the United States, a recently released survey of parents by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) puts the rate for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in American children at 2.76 percent, or 1 in 36.
A November 2017 data brief reporting the new numbers culled information from the National Health Information Survey (NHIS). The survey was conducted 2014-2016.
According to the NCHS, the new numbers do not represent a statistically significant increase in autism prevalence over the three-year period. In 2014, the rate was 2.24 percent for American children.
Looked at another way, though, the 2.24 percent number placed the autism rate at about 1-in-45 children; the 2016 figure represents an autism rate of 1-in-36 children. The prevalence rate for 2015 was 2.41 percent, or 1-in-41.5 children.
The November 2017 data brief provides the latest prevalence estimates for diagnosed autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and other developmental delay among children aged 3-17 years from the 2014-2016 National Health Interview Survey, the brief states.
"Estimates are also presented for any developmental disability, defined as having had one or more of these three diagnoses," the data brief states. "Prevalence estimates are based on parent or guardian report of ever receiving a diagnosis of each developmental disability from a doctor or other health care professional."
Both the 1-in-45 number and the 1-in-36 rates are higher than the official CDC (Centers for Disease Control) autism rate of 1-in-68 children.
The official rate was released in the spring of 2016; new numbers should be released in the next several months. The 2016 numbers were unchanged from those released in 2014, suggesting a leveling off in the increase in the rate of autism.
The official estimate is a product of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, a group of programs funded by CDC to estimate the number of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities living in different areas of the United States. The 1-in-68 estimate from the ADDM Network was based on data collected from health and special education records of children living in 11 U.S. communities during 2012, CDC states. The 2014 numbers came from 2010 data.
But the official data has limitations, the CDC acknowledges.
"In particular, data on intellectual ability were not available for all children, and the distribution of intellectual ability among the children with these data might not be generalizable to all children with ASD," the 2016 ADDM report states.
Read more here.
Autism numbers spike: The latest call to action
The new numbers on autism prevalence are alarming - according to a national survey of more than 30,000 families, 1 in 36 U.S. children have been diagnosed with autism - and they are yet another urgent call for our elected leaders to take action.
Action they must take on two separate fronts.
First, our nation needs to continue its efforts to find the cause or causes of autism, to help us better develop successful treatments and preventive measures. While a growing body of evidence points to environmental triggers, adequate resources must be provided to non-ideological and truly independent scientists so they can pursue their research wherever it takes them.
Second, the nation must come to terms with the educational, social, and medical needs of those who already have autism, and with the needs of their families. Frankly, the resources provided to special-needs student populations these days is woefully inadequate for what is already a massive population.
As the latest NCHS survey shows, the numbers continue to tick upward. Lost productivity, lost lives, lost national wealth - each and every day more and more people are being lost to this tragic epidemic, and ultimately all of us are going to pay the price.
The thing is, when it comes to education, we pretty much know what works and what does not. We know what is effective and what is not. True, the science is always evolving, and there are always new revelations, but the world has made great strides in educating and socializing children with autism. Read more at Autism numbers spike: The latest call to action.
Past coverage of Richard Moore on Age of Autism May 11, 2010, Richard Moore in The Lakeland Times: Autism and the Bad Science of the Medical Establishment April 24, 2010, Richard Moore: Autism Global Pandemic or Myth