On December 3rd, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data, suggesting that more children are receiving autism diagnoses and at younger ages.
According to the CDC, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is “A developmental disability characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction and the presence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.”
In 2016, just one in fifty-four children were diagnosed with autism. In 2018, this rate increased to one in forty-four.
While autism numbers have been growing steadily for years now, experts are not concerned.
Instead, increased awareness and healthcare access are likely the cause. Now, fewer children are going undiagnosed and can receive the intervention treatments they need to improve long-term outcomes.
Additionally, children are much more likely to be diagnosed at younger ages. Compared to 2014, children were fifty percent more likely to be diagnosed before the age of four.
Kelly Shaw, a CDC researcher and the report’s co-author, said, “There is some progress being made and the earlier kids get identified, the earlier they can access services that they might need to improve their developmental outcome.”
There is still a massive gap in accessibility between certain states, though. For example, California has an abundance of services. There, the diagnosis rate was one in twenty-six. Meanwhile, Missouri had a rate of one in sixty.
Interestingly, children from low-income families received more diagnoses than those from high-income families in Utah. This is likely due to the increased coverage for autism services under Medicaid.
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