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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Definition

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by:

  • Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
  • Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
  • Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
  • Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life

Additional information can be found on the NIMH Health Topics page on Autism Spectrum Disorder and on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Autism Spectrum Disorder web page.

Prevalence of ASD

  • Prevalence data for ASD comes from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
  • The table below shows data from the most recent ADDM Network prevalence estimates (published April, 2016). Data were collected from health and special education records of 8-year old children living in 11 areas of the United States during 2012.
    • Across the CDC surveillance sites, an average of 1 in every 68 (1.5%) eight-year old children were identified as having ASD in 2012.
    • ASD is almost five times more common in boys (2.4%) than in girls (0.5%).
    • ASD is reported to occur in all racial and ethnic groups.

Table 1

Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Data Cortesy of CDC
Prevalence Percent About 1 in every "x" children
Overall 14.6 per 1,000 1.50% 1 in 68
Sex Boys 23.6 per 1,000 2.40% 1 in 42
Girls 5.3 per 1,000 0.50% 1 in 189
Race/Ethnicity White 15.5 per 1,000 1.60% 1 in 65
Black 13.2 per 1,000 1.30% 1 in 76
Asian/Pacific Islander 11.3 per 1,000 1.10% 1 in 88
Hispanic* 10.1 per 1,000 1.00% 1 in 99

*All other groups are non-Hispanic.

Data Sources

The ADDM Network is a group of programs funded by the CDC to estimate the number of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities living in different areas of the United States. The ADDM Network prevalence estimates are based on data collected from health and special education records of 8-year old children living in 11 areas of the United States during 2012.

Measurement Caveats

  • ASD prevalence estimates vary by state. The final numbers only represent averages from across the states included in the ADDM Network. These data may not be interpreted as applying to the overall U.S. prevalence rate for ASD.
  • The data were collected only for 8-year-olds. These data may not be extrapolated and applied for other age cohorts.

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