U.S. autism rate surges, CDC reports

By Donna Carver

April 8, 2014

The number of U.S. children with autism has surged to one in 68, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday, March 27, 2014. This is a 37 percent increase since the agency estimated just two years ago that one child in 88 suffered from the disorder.

The numbers were calculated from children born in 2002 with the prevalence of autism being 1 in 68; 1 in 42 boys. Almost 60,000 US 12-year-olds likely have autism. Thirty years ago, autism affected 1 in 5,000 children.

Katie Weisman of SafeMinds stated, “Broader criteria and awareness cannot account for this magnitude of increase. The federal government continues to spend millions of dollars ineffectively and ‘potentially duplicatively’ according to a recent GAO report. We need to identify environmental triggers for autism, prevent them, and develop effective treatments.”

Holly Bortfeld of TACA, Talk About Curing Autism, stated, “The federal government has spent $1.6 billion on autism since 2006, but the money is not helping those affected in meaningful ways. We need to improve medical treatment for the many co-occuring health concerns of individuals with autism and address the wave of students who are aging out and entering an adult world with no plan for them. “

The Autism Policy Reform Coalition (APRC) is advocating for changes in the U.S. Government’s response to the autism crisis and represents a constituency of over 100,000. The APRC is calling for significant changes in the Combating Autism Act, which is to be reauthorized by Congress this year.

“Since 2011, 44 U.S. children with autism have died after wandering away from a safe environment,” stated National Autism Association President Wendy Fournier. “Our federal government must recognize these deaths, and the urgent needs of our most profoundly affected population. They suffer silently in pain from untreated medical issues; they are abused, bullied, and may be at increased risk of suicide. Their deaths and injuries are preventable through an appropriate federal response, which our coalition is dedicated to securing.”

“While there are already many varying comments from professionals in the field regarding whether the reported increase is attributed to an actual rise in diagnoses or a true rise in prevalence, we clearly know more children are being identified.” noted Morrow County Board of Developmental Disabilities Superintendent Nancy Fogelson. She continued “Autism is much more common than most people realize and what is critically most important is that we get children diagnosed and receiving appropriate therapy as soon as possible. We already know the positive outcomes and life changing impact early services can make for children diagnosed with autism or really any developmental delay.”