Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears in the first three years of life. Autism is the third most common developmental disability in the U.S. affecting an estimated 400,000 people. It occurs in approximately 1 of every 59 individuals and is four times more prevalent in boys than girls.
Autism is a spectrum disorder. In the autistic child, communications and social interactions are severely impaired. Unable to learn from the natural environment as most children do, the child with autism generally shows little interest in the world or people around him. Some children with autism acquire advanced skills, but most exhibit a wide range of behavioral problems. In reality, autism affects the way a person comprehends, communicates and relates to others.
Autism was originally thought to be primarily a psychiatric condition. However, further investigation showed that genetic and environmental factors are implicated in the pathogenesis of autism. The effects of environmental factors such as infections and toxic chemicals on gene expression result in biochemical, immunological and neurological disorders found in children with autism.
- 1 in 59 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- 1 in 37 boys ( 4 times more common in boys than girls)
- 1 in 151 girls
- Reported in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a complex set of neurological disorders that severely impair social, communicative and cognitive functions.
- Individuals with ASD may have cognitive impairments, though some have typical or above average IQs. 31% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability (intelligence quotient [IQ] <70), 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71–85), and 44% have IQ scores in the average to above average range (i.e., IQ >85).
- An estimated one-third of people with autism are nonverbal.
- Typical ASD behaviors include stereotyped actions (hand flapping, body rocking), insistence on sameness, resistance to change and, in some cases, aggression or self-injury. Nearly 28 percent of 8-year-olds with ASD have self-injurious behaviors. Head banging, arm biting and skin scratching are among the most common
- Between 30-50% of people with autism have seizures.
- Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 30 to 61 percent of children with autism.
- More than half of children with autism have one or more chronic sleep problems.
- Depression affects an estimated 7% of children and 26% of adults with autism.
- Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 11 to 40 percent of children and teens on the autism spectrum.
- Children with autism are nearly eight times more likely to suffer from one or more chronic gastrointestinal disorders than are other children.
- The cost of providing care for a person with autism in the U.S. is an estimated $1.4 million over their lifetime, according to a study funded by advocacy group Autism Speaks.
- For those with autism who are impacted with intellectual disabilities (with an IQ of 70 or less) — nearly one third of the autistic population — the cost jumps to $2.3 million.
- On average autism costs a family $60,000 a year
- More than half of young adults with autism remain unemployed and unenrolled in higher education in the two years after high school. This is a lower rate than that of young adults in other disability categories, including learning disabilities, intellectual disability or speech-language impairment.
- Of the nearly 18,000 people with autism who used state-funded vocational rehabilitation programs in 2014, only 60 percent left the program with a job. Of these, 80 percent worked part-time at a median weekly rate of $160, putting them well below the poverty level.
- Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job.
Links to Support Centers throughout Massachusetts.
The full text of the DSM-V criteria.