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Autism spectrum disorder statistics indicate that an estimated 500,000 children in the United States under 21 years of age have the disorder. Since autism was added as a special education exceptionality in 1991, it has become the sixth most commonly classified disability in the US. Autism spectrum disorder statistics suggest that autism spectrum disorder is the second most common developmental disability.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Statistics: An Overview

Data from several studies that used the current criteria for diagnosing autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), such as Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disabilities (PDD-NOS), found occurrence rates for autism spectrum disorders between 2 and 6 per 1,000 individuals. Therefore, it can be summarized that between 1 in 500 (2/1,000) to 1 in 166 children (6/1,000) have an autism spectrum disorder.
 

Autism Spectrum Disorder Statistics: Children

There is not a full population count of all individuals with autism spectrum disorder in the United States. However, using the occurrence data stated above, we can estimate that if 4 million children are born in the United States every year, approximately 24,000 of these children will eventually be diagnosed with an ASD.
 
Assuming the occurrence rate has been constant over the past two decades, we can estimate that up to 500,000 individuals between the ages of 0 to 21 have an autism spectrum disorder. However, many of these individuals may not be classified as having an ASD until school-age or later. Because behaviors related to the autism spectrum disorders are usually present before the age of 3 years, it is important to make sure the individuals are being identified and are receiving appropriate intervention services as early as possible.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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