ASD Prevalence (2021 Update)

Hey everyone! Hope all is well, and that all of you are enjoying the holiday season. I recently came across a statistic about Autism, which is often stated as the metric for the prevalence of ASD. This ties back to one of my very initial posts, ASD Diagnosis & Affect on ASD rate, which discussed this topic based upon the data that was available then. 

The statistic that I’m referring to is the “1 in __ children in the United States are diagnosed under ASD ” sentence that we’ve all become familiar with. Well, what’s the value now? In 2021, the CDC stated that “1 in 44 children in the United States is diagnosed with [ASD].” 

Some layers of this report, as summarized by Autism Speaks, that are important to notice include the fact that “1 in 27 boys identified with autism,” and in contrast “1 in 116 girls identified with autism.” These results suggest that Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls. 

  What can be some of the causes behind these results? The most obvious point, which I focused upon in my ASD Diagnosis & Affect on ASD rate article, is the changes in the ASD diagnostic process. The same Autism Speaks report indicates how autism diagnoses are now being done “as early as age 2.” However, a counterargument to this can be the point about how a change in “ASD case” definitions, since 2018, hasn’t resulted in a significant increase in ASD diagnoses. The CDC reports that “Approximately 86% of all children who met either the previous or new case definition met both case definitions. The new case definition did not ascertain ASD among children who were never identified as having ASD by a community provider.” Additional sources behind the increase in ASD prevalence could possibly include the factors of genetics, older parents leading to higher risk for children, and sibling’s ASD status. 

Those were my thoughts about a major update for this topic. On an unrelated note, be on the lookout for my annual “summary of the year” post, within this month! 

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