Rising Prevalence of Autism – What are the Implications?

Posted on by cfdev

By Dennis Rogers

Each year we hear about the results of a new autism prevalence survey, and the numbers continue to rise. In the back of our mind are key questions like: “What does this mean for the future?” or, “How many people with autism are out there needing services?” The schools have been overwhelmed with the rapid increase in students with autism, and the leading edge of that group is about to leave school and enter the world of adult services.

To give some insight into the future impact, a simple statistical model has been constructed and used to forecast the autism service needs through 2030. The model combines the US population forecasts published by the Census Bureau, with the autism prevalence data based on results from US schools and from several studies and surveys published by the Center for Disease Control.

Results are dependent on what we assume will happen to the autism prevalence rate going forward. Assuming it stays flat in the future, the number of school age students is projected to rise by 44% and adults by 625% by the year 2030 (compared to 2010). With a conservative estimate of a 3% annual rise in autism prevalence going forward, the number of school age students is forecast to rise by 133% and adults by 671% by 2030. Even if autism were cured today, the number of adults with autism needing services by 2030 will be 600% higher – they are already born!
Click here for a presentation of the results of this study

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