Center for Autism and Related Disorders Reacts to CDC Announcement of 15% Increase in Autism Rate, Calling Autism “Urgent Public Health Concern”

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The new prevalence rate highlights the need for access to quality services and supports.

In its biennial report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced an increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from 1 in 68 to 1 in 59 children in the United States. The new estimated rate represents a 15% increase. The CDC characterizes the increase as “higher than previously reported,” rather than an indication that the incidence of ASD continues to grow. Autism Speaks said today that the new numbers indicate a “persistent undercount of autism’s true prevalence among the nation’s children.” The CDC report is based on data collected from 11 states, and prevalence varied broadly from one community to the next. Prevalence of ASD has increased 150% since 2000.

The CDC report indicated that Hispanic children continue to be diagnosed at a slower pace than their white and African-American counterparts. Researchers have said that ASD likely affects all ethnicities equally, meaning that the lower incidence of ASD in Hispanic children is an indication that screening for ASD in Hispanic children continues to lag behind screening of non-Hispanic children. The CDC report noted that the rate of ASD diagnosis in boys remains higher than for girls, with 26.6 per 1,000 boys having an ASD diagnosis and 6.6 per 1,000 girls having an ASD diagnosis.

Although ASD can be diagnosed in children as young as 18 months old, fewer than half of the children identified by the CDC were diagnosed before the age of 4. An extensive body of research has demonstrated that applied behavior analysis (ABA) is effective in treating the developmental deficits and behaviors associated with ASD and is most effective when treatment begins early.

“These new numbers represent real children in communities all over the United States,” said Doreen Granpeesheh, Ph.D., BCBA-D, the CEO and founder of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). “We are heartened to see that children who have autism are more likely to be identified, but we must identify them earlierand do more to ensure that every child has access to treatment without delay.”

ASD is a developmental disorder marked by impaired social interaction, limited communication, behavioral challenges, and a limited range of activities and interests. Children with autism can show a wide variety of behavioral symptoms, from failure to develop appropriate peer relationships to a delay in or a total lack of spoken language. For children who do speak, there may be a repetitive use of language or a delay in the ability to sustain a conversation with others.
Evidence-based autism treatment promotes the development of social and communication skills and minimizes behaviors that interfere with functioning and learning. Intensive, sustained evidence-based autism treatment can increase an individual’s ability to acquire language, learn, function in the community, and fulfill his or her potential.

About Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)
CARD treats individuals of all ages who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at treatment centers around the globe. CARD was founded in 1990 by leading autism expert, licensed psychologist, and behavior analyst Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D. CARD treats individuals with ASD using the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is empirically proven to be the most effective method for treating individuals with ASD and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Surgeon General. For more information, visit or call (855) 345-2273.

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Christian Gutierrez
since: 02/2009
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