2.2% of American Adults Have Autism Spectrum Condition, CDC Finds
2.2% of American adults have an autism spectrum condition, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a statement Monday, the CDC explained that 2.2% adds up to 5.4 million people age 18 or older, or about 1 in 45 people. The CDC added that the new study is the first to offer estimates of the number of U.S. adults with autism, and fills a gap in data on adults living with autism in the U.S., since no surveillance currently exists to collect that information.
“To date, an empirical study of adult ASD prevalence in the U.S. has not been accomplished, perhaps because any single approach to ascertain adult ASD has challenges,” the CDC’s Patricia Dietz and her colleagues wrote in their report, according to coverage by CNN.com. The researchers explained that the lack of validated tests for autistic adults “leads to uncertainty for studies using tests designed for children, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. In addition, mixed methods are likely needed in order to reach populations living independently and in group settings."
The CDC conducts regular surveys of autism in children. Its most recent survey, conducted in 2016, found that 1.85% of 8-year-olds, or 1 in 54 children, were on the autism spectrum. For its survey of autism among adults, the CDC used estimates of autism among children, and projected that into an adult population using state data on mortality.
“The findings from this study can help states determine the need for diagnosing and providing services to adults in the United States who remain unidentified with ASD,” the CDC said, according to CNN.