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Top Autism Trends in 2024

Autism Facts

Brian Curley
May 25, 2024
11 min read

Autism is a neurological condition that affects millions of people each year, marked by deficits in communication and social interaction. An autism diagnosis can provide many challenges for the individual, as well as their parents and caregivers.

Given recent advancements in technology, education, and the science of behavior – along with the emergence of diagnostic and data collection tools – we’re able to understand autism better, and provide therapy to aid in the development of language and social skills. In this guide, we will discuss the most recent statistics on Autism and share important data that will help to improve the lives of those with Autism globally.

Sources by the CDC and other trustworthy organizations. All sources can be found at the bottom of the page.
It is estimated that 1 in every 100 children is diagnosed with autism worldwide.
As of 2024, autism affects 1 in 36 children in the US alone according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Roughly 2.3% of all American children are autistic.
Boys are diagnosed with ASD at a rate of 4 times higher than girls.
White children have a 2.4% prevalence in autism, while Black and Hispanic children show higher rates at 2.9% and 3.2%, respectively.

Autism Rates for U.S. in 2024

Highest: Massachusetts has the highest prevalence rate of 2.42%, while Virginia and Connecticut follow behind with 2.37%.

Majority: Most states fall within a range of 2% to 2.42% prevalence.

Lowest: Louisiana has the lowest diagnosed autism rate at 1.9%.

Below 2%: 2 states have an autism diagnosis prevalence of less than 2%.

Autism in Adults

Estimated Prevalence: Around 2.18% of adults in the US are autistic according to the CDC.  

Geographic Trends: Massachusetts has the highest estimated number of autistic adults among surveyed US states, mirroring trends observed in children's diagnoses.  

Gender Disparity: Autism prevalence is higher in men than women.  

Employment: Roughly 75% of adults diagnosed with autism in the United States experience either underemployment or complete unemployment.

Top States with Autism Prevalence (US)

State

Case Adults 18-84

California
701,669
Texas
449,631
New York
342,280
Florida
329,131
Pennsylvania
228,572
Illinois
223,353
Ohio
185,315
Georgia
174,612
Michigan
164,360
New Jersey
157,245
North Carolina
155,953

Prevalence of Autism Over Time

Historically Lower Estimates

Early estimates (1960s-1970s) reported autism prevalence as low as 0.5 to 1 per 1,000 children.
These figures likely underestimate the true prevalence due to a limited awareness of autism and narrower diagnostic criteria that excluded some individuals on the spectrum.

Shifting Landscape (1980s-2000s)

The introduction of broader diagnostic criteria in the 1980s and 1990s led to a significant rise in diagnosed cases.
Increased public awareness also contributed to higher identification of autism.
Estimates climbed to around 1 per 1,000 children in the 1980s and around 6-7 per 1,000 children by 2002 (Source: CDC).

Continued Rise and Addressing Under-diagnosis (2000s-Present)

Recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a prevalence of 1 in 36 children (2024).

Autism Prevalence

Autism Rates Globally

Autism prevalence estimates vary significantly across the globe. While the World Health Organization suggests a global average of roughly 1 in 100 children, specific country data can differ substantially. Here's a breakdown of some key observations:  

Most Common Range: Many countries report diagnosed autism rates between 60 and 100 per 10,000 children. This reflects a kind of global "middle ground" in reported prevalence.

Variations and Influencing Factors: Important to remember, these diagnosed rates are influenced by factors like:

  • Diagnostic practices (which can differ by region).
  • Access to diagnostic services (which can vary between countries).
  • Awareness levels within a population. 

Countries with High Rates: A small number of countries report diagnosed autism rates exceeding 100 per 10,000 children

Lowest Reported Rate: France stands out with the lowest reported diagnosed autism rate globally, with roughly 1 in 144 children identified. Again, similar considerations about influencing factors apply when interpreting this data point.

Geographic Distribution: It's interesting to note that countries with the lowest reported rates tend to be concentrated in Europe, while those with the highest reported rates are often found in the West Asian region. However, this doesn't necessarily reflect actual prevalence, but rather potential variations in detection and reporting practices across these regions. 

Despite the United States being a developed country with robust healthcare facilities it falls within the global range of autism diagnoses, at around 81 per 10,000 children. This prevalence rate, although significant, could be attributed to the country's use of comprehensive diagnostic criteria alongside increased public awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorder.

Top 20 Countries with Autism Prevalence

Country

Prevalence per 10,000 Children

Qatar
151.20
United Arab Emirates
112.40
Oman
107.20
Bahrain
103.30
Saudi Arabia
100.70
Kuwait
97.70
Jordan
92.10
Syria
91.90
Afghanistan
91.20
Palestine
91
Sweden
90.8
Libya
90.6
Yemen
90.4
Iran
90.3
Sudan
90.1
Mexico
89.9
Lebanon
89.8
Iraq
89.4
Alegeria
89.4
Egypt
89.4

Autism Unemployment Rate

Autistic adults face significant hurdles in the workforce. Here's a breakdown of the data and some additional considerations:
Staggeringly Low Employment Rates
Amongst autistic adults, studies report an unemployment rate ranging from 50% to a staggering 90%, depending on the methodology and population studied. Even among those fortunate enough to find employment, underemployment might be an issue. (Autism Unemployment Rate: Source not specified)
College Doesn't Guarantee Employment
The situation seems particularly concerning for college-educated autistic adults. Sources report only around 15% are fully employed, highlighting a potential disconnect between qualifications and workplace opportunities. (Autism Unemployment Rate: Source not specified)
Limited Employment Overall
Looking at the broader picture, just 25% of autistic adults in general are reportedly fully employed. This falls far short of the general population's employment rate, signifying a significant employment gap for autistic individuals. (Autism Unemployment Rate: Source not specified)
Difficulties Beyond Employment
The challenges go beyond securing employment. Obtaining social security benefits can also be difficult for autistic adults, as many haven't had the opportunity to contribute due to limited employment options. (Autism Unemployment Rate: Source not specified)

Potential Reasons for This Gap

Workplace Obstacles
Autistic individuals might face various challenges in traditional workplaces, such as sensory overload, difficulties with social interaction, or unclear communication practices.
Lack of Support
Work environments might not offer adequate support systems or accommodations to empower autistic employees to thrive.
Awareness Deficit
Employers might not be fully aware of the strengths and skills autistic individuals can bring to the workforce.

Percentage of Job Types for Autistic People

Facts About ABA Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is defined as “the science in which tactics derived from the principles of behavior are applied to improve socially significant behavior and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for the improvement in behavior.” While ABA is not limited to educating persons with autism spectrum disorder, it is often used successfully to treat such persons. (Source: Cooper, John, Heron, Timothy, & Heward, William. Applied Behavior Analysis, Second Edition. Pearson Education, Inc., 2007).

  1. 2005 Classroom Success: A 2005 study reported that nearly half (48%) of children with autism achieved success in regular classrooms when ABA therapy was initiated at a young age. This finding highlights the potential benefits of early intervention.
  2. ABA therapy relies on curriculum and assessment: Research indicates that implementing an ABA-based curriculum and assessment in early childhood education can significantly enhance developmental outcomes for children. Studies have shown that incorporating ABA principles into curriculum design and assessment practices leads to improvements in adaptive behaviors, such as self-care, communication, and social interaction skills, crucial for daily living and long-term success
  3. Early Intervention: Research suggests early intervention with ABA therapy (before age 3) can lead to significant improvements in developmental outcomes for autistic children. A study by Dawson et al. (2010) found that children who received two years of intensive ABA therapy starting before age 3 showed greater gains in cognitive and language skills compared to a control group. 
  4. Improved Daily Living Skills: A study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders showed that ABA therapy led to significant improvements in adaptive behaviors for autistic children. This means they gained skills for daily living, like self-care, communication, and social interaction.
  5. Greater Community Participation: Research suggests ABA therapy can help autistic individuals integrate and participate more actively in their communities. This could involve engaging in social activities, attending school, or participating in hobbies. 
  6. Reduced Repetitive Behaviors: Another study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that ABA therapy resulted in significant reductions in stereotypic behaviors for autistic children. Stereotypic behaviors are repetitive movements or actions that may interfere with daily life.
  7. Studying and Preventing Behaviors: Effective ABA data collection methods are essential for achieving remarkable outcomes with autistic individuals, such as significant improvements in their daily lives, community integration, and preventing repetitive behaviors observed in numerous studies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can autism be cured?
Autism is a complex neurological condition that does not have a cure. However, early therapy and intervention help individuals with autism manage behaviors, improve communication and social skills, and enhance their quality of life. Many autistic advocates and allies emphasize awareness and acceptance of differences, and promote inclusion, support, and accommodations. They also celebrate the strengths that neurodivergence can bring.

Can autism get worse with age?
Autism doesn't get worse as you get older, but the symptoms of autism can change over time and individuals may face new challenges as they get older such as increased social isolation, difficulty accessing services, and managing co-occurring health conditions. 

Why is autism more common in males?
Research suggests that autism is more prevalent in males due to factors like genetic predispositions, brain structure differences, and higher fetal testosterone levels. The extreme male brain theory also suggests that hypermasculine traits contribute to this gender disparity in autism diagnoses. 

Can autism be detected before birth?
Autism is typically not diagnosed before birth. However, recent research indicates that certain early signs of autism can be detected during prenatal ultrasounds. Researchers observed abnormalities in fetal brain development, such as enlarged ventricles, which may indicate a higher risk of autism. 

Can autism be genetic?
Yes, autism can have a genetic component. Studies from sources like the CDC and MedlinePlus indicate that autism spectrum disorder tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition. Having a sibling with autism increases the risk for ASD, as reported by Cleveland Clinic. 

Sources: 

cdc.gov

who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9128411/ 

abacustherapies.com/facts-about-autism-comprehensive-overview-for-2024/ 

autismparentingmagazine.com/autism-statistics

goldenstepsaba.com/resources/autism-unemployment-rate

totalcareaba.com/statistics/aba-therapist-demographics

bridgecareaba.com/blog/aba-therapy-statistics

worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/autism-rates-by-state