Facts & Statistics

Diagnosis & Prevalence

  • The prevalence of autism is estimated at 1 in 54 births nationwide and 63 in Arizona. ADDM Network data from 2014 found that 74% of 4-year-old children with ASD received a developmental evaluation by 36 months of age. (1)
  • Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder, yet most underfunded. (2)
  • About 1 in 6 (17%) children aged 3–17 years were diagnosed with a developmental disability, as reported by parents, during a study period of 2009-2017. (1)
  • Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include: developmental pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs); child neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves); child psychologists or psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind). (4)
  • In December 2018, about 12.5 million people aged 18–64 received benefits on the basis of disability.(5)
  • It is estimated that worldwide one in 160 children has ASD.(7)
  • Autism spectrum disorders are 4 times more common for boys than girls.(1)


  • The cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention. (6)
  • 3.5M+ individuals in the United States are on the autism spectrum; autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S.(10)
  • Most children were still being diagnosed after age 4, though autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2.(8)
  • The cost of caring for Americans with autism had reached $268 billion in 2015 and would rise to $461 billion by 2025 in the absence of more-effective interventions and support across the life span.(8)
  • On average, autism costs an estimated $60,000 a year through childhood, with the bulk of the costs in special services and lost wages related to increased demands on one or both parents. Costs increase with the occurrence of intellectual disability.(9)
  • 88,000 individuals are on state waiting lists hoping to receive adult housing services; the rate is growing exponentially. 85% of autistic adults with a college education are unemployed (10).

Education and Work

  • The average per-pupil expenditure for educating a child with autism was estimated by SEEP to be over $18,000 in the 1999-2000 school year. This estimate was nearly three times the expenditure for a typical regular education student who did not receive special education services.(11)
  • The unemployment rates for people with autism are estimated to be 90%, compared with 9% for people without a disability.(10)


  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March 19). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

  2. National Autism Association. (n.d.). Autism Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/autism-fact-sheet/

  3. CDC. (2020, March 19). A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Arizona. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov

  4. CDC. (2020, March 25). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html

  5. Social Security Administration. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/sect03b.html

  6. Järbrink, K. (2007). The economic consequences of autistic spectrum disorder among children in a Swedish municipality. Autism, 11(5), 453-463. doi:10.1177/1362361307079602

  7. World Health Organization. (2019, November 07). Autism Spectrum Disorders. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders

  8. Autism Speaks. (2020, March). Autism Statistics and Facts. Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-statistics

  9. Autism Speaks. (2020, March). Autism and Health: A Special Report by Autism Speaks. Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/lifetime-costs-autism-average-millions

  10. Autism Society of America. (2020). What is Autism [PDF]. Bethesda, MD: Autism Society. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e333195f64f505612b66c22/t/5e55f41f672e827238172d73/1582691360400/WhatIsAutism_Infographic_AS_FINAL.pdf

  11. Office, U. G. (2005, February 14). Special Education: Children With Autism. Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-220

© 2020 Autism Society of Southern Arizona