Autism Statistics: Numbers You Should Know

Reviewed by:
Hannah Andreasen

April 30, 2022

According to autism statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 1% of the world’s population is on the autism spectrum. Autism has a wide range of symptoms that can vary greatly for each individual.

How many people are affected by autism?

According to recent data from the CDC, 1 in 44 children is diagnosed with autism and about one in six children are diagnosed with some sort of developmental disability. 

Early autism statistics state that approximately only four out of ten thousand people were diagnosed with autism in the 1980s. However, the prevalence rate continued to rise in the 90s to one in 2,500, and later in the 2000s, the number rose to one in 1,000. 

Currently, it is believed that 1 in 44 children have autism. It is a common misconception that these statistics are due to the exponential growth of the disorder, instead, it is more likely a broadening of the spectrum.

General autism statistics

  • Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the world.
  • Most children are diagnosed after the age of 4, but autism can be diagnosed reliably at 2.
  • Boys are 4 times more likely to have autism than girls.
  • 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.
  • There is no medical detection or known cure for autism, but thousands of children have shown significant improvement resulting from early diagnosis and proper care. 
  • The increased autism rate can be explained partly by better diagnostic criteria.

What causes autism?

Studies suggest that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be a result of early disruptions in normal brain growth. 

  • According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke report, autism is found to be more common in children born prematurely. 
  • It is also said that children born to older parents are at higher risk of having autism.
  • According to stats, parents of children with autism have a 2 to 18 percent chance of having a second child with autism. 

When it comes to identical twins, if one child has autism, there is a possibility the other child may be affected 36 to 95 percent of the time. In the case of non-identical twins, if one child has autism, then the other child is affected about 31 percent of the time.

Do vaccines cause autism?

No. Results show that vaccines do not cause autism and the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded that vaccines do not cause or increase the risk of autism.

Early diagnosis, treatments and therapies for autism

  • According to studies, early intervention in autism is proven to be associated with the best outcomes.
  • Additionally, some children respond better to early interventions and therapies. 
  • Other studies indicated that between 3% and 25% of children with autism seem to outgrow their diagnoses. These children were often diagnosed at a young age.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most commonly used behavioral therapy for autism.
  • Other therapies such as communication and behavioral therapies, educational therapies, and family therapies prove to be beneficial as well.

Challenges associated with autism

  • As per the World Health Organization (WHO), about one in 160 children has level 1 autism.
  • People with autism seem to have higher rates of unmet healthcare needs when compared to the general population. This can be a common barrier resulting from healthcare providers’ inadequate knowledge and understanding of autism.
  • The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published a study stating that 28% of 8-year-old children on the spectrum have self-injurious behaviors like headbanging, arm biting, and skin scratching.
  • Though autism itself does not affect life expectancy, research has shown that the mortality risk among individuals with autism is twice as high as the general population due to drowning and other accidents.
  • According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning remains a leading cause of death for children with autism which accounted for approximately 90 percent of total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism.
  • It also documented that nearly 50 percent of children with autism attempt to escape from a safe environment and more than one-third of children with autism who wander/elope are rarely able to communicate their name, address, or contact number.

Autism in adults

  • Approximately 70,700 to 111,600 youth on the autism spectrum turn 18 years old each year. This means that between 707,000 and 1,116,000 youths on the autism spectrum will enter adulthood over the next decade.
  • According to a CDC report, more than 5.4 million adults in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum.
  • The prevalence of US adults with autism range from a low of 1.97% in Louisiana to a high of 2.42% in Massachusetts. The states with the greatest estimated number of adults living with autism are California (701,669), Texas (449,631), New York (342,280), and Florida (329,131).

According to research records, only about 1-2% of all autism research funding is devoted to understanding adult issues.

Economic costs

  • The medical expenses for children with autism on average are 4.1 to 6.2 times greater than for children without autism.
  • Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders forecast autism will cost the U.S. $268 billion this year and by 2025, the price tag could grow  to $461 billion.
  • In 2014, the cost of supporting people with autism and intellectual disability was $2.4 million and the cost of supporting people without an intellectual disability was $1.4 million.
  • According to the latest report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  1.47 percent of 8-year-old children have autism. Assuming this rate to the total people with autism puts costs at roughly $616 billion in 2025.
  • David Mandell, a health services researcher and psychiatrist states:  

If we don’t get better at helping adults with autism and keeping them in their communities, if we don’t get better at delivering efficient, cost-effective care, then the economic toll is only going to increase.”

However, if the current spending on behavioral interventions for children with autism halves costs for young adults in 2025, then the cost of autism would drop by roughly $28 billion.


With the ever growing prevalence of children with autism, it is important to get the assistance you need when you need it. Songbird is a technology-based provider covered by 100+ insurance plans and sets a higher standard of care for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access top-notch care at home, uniquely tailored to them. Contact us today to begin life-changing autism care.