The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that approximately 1 in 68 American children are on the autism spectrum. More specifically, it’s estimated that 1 in 42 boys, and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the US.
This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children
Autism does not discriminate across cultures, ethnicities, or SES.
There is no definitive explanation for the increase in rates of diagnosis, however improved awareness and environmental factors are often given a potential reasons.
General consensus is that there is no single cause of autism, and further, it is likely to actually be a number of different developmental brain disorders that produce similar presentations.
Autism Speaks notes that most cases of autism are thought to result from a combination of genetic predisposition and triggering environmental events that serve to influence early brain development.
Autism Speaks notes that new research published in 2012 suggests that autism costs $126 billion dollars a year in the US, a number that has tripled from estimates in 2006.
The CDC states that data from 2008 indicates individuals with an ASD had average medical expenditures that exceeded those without an ASD by $4,110–$6,200 per year. On average, medical expenditures for individuals with an ASD were 4.1–6.2 times greater than for those without an ASD.
However, research has found that non-medical costs, for things like behavioral intervention, special education, and residential placements, account for the greatest proportion of expenses.
The costs of autism per year are nearly twice as high on average for children and adults with intellectual disabiity than for those without intellectual disability
The Autism Society estimates that 60% of annual costs of autism are from the needs of adults on the spectrum, in particular for residential care across the adult lifespan.