As many of you know from this week’s headlines, a new government health survey of parents indicates that 1 in 50 school-age children are affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
This striking number does not replace the official government estimate of 1 in 88 American children. However it strongly supports research suggesting that the 1 in 88 figure is an underestimate.
In South Korea, Autism Speaks funded a study that sent trained professionals into schools to screen children for ASD. It found 1 in 38 children on the spectrum, a figure much closer to this new survey. Autism Speaks is now replicating the South Korea study here in the United States, in close collaboration with the CDC.
The good news is that the survey’s “1 in 50” results suggest that increased autism awareness is helping more children get a diagnosis. However, it also shows that many children are going undiagnosed until age 7 or older – years after a reliable diagnosis is possible. We must change this – we know that early intervention helps our children do better in school and lead happier, healthier lives.
We’re also encouraged to see a number of our political leaders respond to the new findings by affirming that autism is a public health crisis needing a national public health response.
As we move forward, we want to emphasize two key messages from this week’s news:
* While the “1 in 50” results from this survey do not replace the CDC’s official estimate of 1 in 88 children affected by autism, they add to mounting evidence that large numbers of affected children – and adults – are going undiagnosed and without important services that can improve their lives and enhance their ability to be productive members of our society.
* These numbers underscore the urgent need for a powerful and appropriate national strategy on autism. We need autism benefits to be included in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act!
How fitting that we are approaching World Autism Awareness day, April 2nd, and Autism Awareness Month. Now is our time to come together around this urgent public health issue.
Please join us to Light It Up Blue.
With warmest regards,
President, Autism Speaks