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Autism Facts

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The term "spectrum" refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.

Autism begins in early childhood and eventually causes problems functioning in society—socially, in school and at work, for example. Often children show symptoms of autism within the first year. A small number of children appear to develop normally in the first year, and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age when they develop symptoms of autism.

While there is no cure, intensive, early treatment can make a significant difference in the lives of many children.

Facts & Stats

  • 1 in 44

    1 in 44 children is diagnosed with autism. (CDC, 2018)

  • 5.4 million

    More than 5.4 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. (Dietz et al., 2020)

  • fastest growing

    Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the United States. (CDC, 2014)

  • $60,000

    Autism can cost a family up to $60,000 a year on average. (CDC, 2014)

  • $8,600

    It costs more than $8,600 extra per year to educate a student with autism. (Lavelle et al., 2014)

  • 2/3rds

    The cost of lifelong care can be reduced by two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention. (Järbrink K1, Autism. 2007 Sep;11(5):453-63)