Increasing prevalence rates of autism are concerning. In 2000, with the oncoming new millennium, the rate was approximately 1 in 150 children. The latest rates published by the CDC, from 2014, show the rate of autism to be 1 in 59 children. Although the CDC website was last updated in 2019, no further prevalence rates are given—yet, there’s a rumor that the latest data shows the prevalence has yet again increased. Many experts will tell you that autism has been present all along, and that these rates only reflect a more inclusive diagnosis. The book Neurotribes: The legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity lays out the potential history of persons with autism including many scientists and Silicon Valley wizards who simply were not diagnosed as the diagnosis had yet to be established. This is true to a certain point.
Awareness has also increased, and more and more I see movie theaters having sensory showings, and airports having sensory rooms. I can possibly believe that the prevalence of autism has always been the same, and that perhaps persons with autism simply avoided movie theaters and airline travel. Maybe. But recently the Texas Medical Association (TMA) printed “Addressing Autism: Giving Physicians Tools.” Okay, I can believe persons with autism could have avoided movie theaters and flying, but not going to the doctor. If autism has been around in its current prevalence, then wouldn’t doctors have had all these tools in place, regardless of the label or diagnosis? Long-practicing pediatricians, with careers spanning 20 to 30 years, should be queried as to whether they think the prevalence of autism is increasing or whether these children have come through their practices all along, just without diagnoses and accommodations.
I am a longstanding member and supporter of the TMA. Their article is proactive in addressing both the legislature “to add intensive behavioral interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a new Medicaid benefit,” and the medical community to provide information to doctors to refer Texans with autism to appropriate resources. Once adults, persons with autism often lose school support, and need more support and care as adults. I couldn’t agree more. Oh hello, Autism Research Texas!
What does it mean for the prevalence rate of autism to climb from 1 in 150 to 1 in 59 children? In Texas, with approximately 400,000 births per year, of children born in 2000, approximately 2,600 persons with autism are now adults; and of children born in 2014, over 6,700 persons with autism will become adults. Rather, it means that over the next twenty years, more and more persons with autism will become adults. If we do not promote independence and support of persons with autism, then where will they be? I was disheartened to find no scholarships for post-high school education for Texas residents with autism. Again, hello, Autism Research Texas! In 2020, we will offer at least three $500 scholarships to persons with autism for post-high school education, and one $500 scholarship to assist a program dedicated to helping persons with autism within the state of Texas.
We have also raised enough funds for a $5000 grant to support research regarding autism. Be on the lookout! Requests for proposals should come out around April 2020!
By the way, a special THANK YOU to all of our supporters! Your gracious donations have made this all possible!
CDC. (Sept. 3, 2019). Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder. CDC. Retrieved from:
Price, S. (Dec. 4, 2019). Addressing Autism: Giving Physicians Tools. Texas Medical Association. Retrieved from: https://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=52057
Silberman, S. (2015). Neurotribes: The legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity. New York: Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.