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Autism Society: New Study Demonstrates Greater Need for Services and Associated Funding

3/21/2013 10:54:00 AM

Autism Society: New Study Demonstrates Greater Need forServices and Associated Funding

March 20, 2013
By Autism Society

The Center for DiseaseControl and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) withfunding and direction from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)released a report that suggests 1 in 50 children has autism. Todays data comesfrom the National Survey of Children’s Health, a nationally-representativephone survey of households with children conducted every four years. Thereport, “Changes in Prevalence of Parent-Reported Autism Spectrum Disorder inSchool-Aged Children: 2007 to 2011-2012” is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs

According to today’s NCHS report, in 2007 the prevalence of parent-reported ASDamong children ages 6-17 was 1.2%; this rate increased to 2% in 2011-2012. Thechange in prevalence estimates over this five-year period was greatest for boysand for adolescents ages 14-17. According to the CDC much of the increase inthe prevalence estimates for school-aged children was the result of diagnosesof children with previously unrecognized ASD.

The CDC-funded Autism and DevelopmentalDisabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network report released in March2012 showed an incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in 1 out of 88children. These prevalence estimates are based on data collected from healthand special education records of children living in 14 areas of the UnitedStates during 2008. The NCHS report and ADDM Network data are simply differenttools used to examine the prevalence of ASD.  The ADDM report last yearfound that autism prevalence increased 23% from data collected in 2007.Together, these tools help to provide a more complete picture of ASD prevalenceand shed greater light on what parents and communities are experiencing. Thenext CDC report on ASD prevalence from the ADDM Network is expected to bepublished in 2014. 

The numbers from the NCHS report and the ADDM Network are both striking, but wemust remember that increases in prevalence demonstrates need that goes wellbeyond the individual. The impact of ASD affects the individual, their family,education and health care systems, government funding and our community as awhole. Regardless of why it has occurred, increased prevalence demonstrates theneed for services and associated funding. The significant increase in incidencerepresents individuals and families facing tremendous stress, as well assignificant strain placed on an already overextended service system. 

We must educate the public and medical professionals to recognize signs ofASD.  According to the CDC, an experienced professional can provide areliable diagnosis as early as 24 months, but many children are not screened orgiven a final diagnosis until after 4 years old.  If we improve families’access to early screening and diagnostic services, lifetime costs (currentlyestimated to be $3.2 million per person) can be reduced by as much astwo-thirds.

Mandated services provided through Individuals with Disabilities EducationImprovement Act end upon completion of high school, yet 60% of lifetime costsoccur in adulthood. Reports from the National Center for Educational Statisticsand the Department of Education show that only 43% of people with disabilitieswill graduate high school with a diploma. According to the U.S. Department ofLabor Statistics, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is78.5%. There is significant disparity in the need for and the availability ofpublicly funded long-terms services and supports for people with disabilitiesresulting in waiting lists estimated to range from 80,000 to 200,000nationwide.

Since 1965 the Autism Society has helped millions of people throughout theirlifespan to focus on their needs today while empowering them to be prepared forwhat may come tomorrow. The results of these studies only enforces the need fora national commitment to provide adequate funding so that needed services andsupports are available to those living with autism. 

About theAutism Society of The Greater Capital Region

The AutismSociety of the Greater Capital Region, New York serves people living withAutism in the twelve counties of the Greater Capital Region and theirfamilies.  Our mission is to promote lifelong access and opportunities forpeople with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families so they can be fullyparticipating, included members of their communities.  We do this throughadvocacy, public awareness, education, compassionate support and researchrelated to autism.  To learn more about autism and the Autism Society ofthe Greater Capital Region visit www.albanyautism.org

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