CDC announces new autism rate: 1 in 88

by Symptom Advice on April 16, 2012

What would you do if you saw 1 in 88 children walking around with their hair on fire?

It would likely unnerve you, to say the least, and you’d probably be compelled to search for an explanation, asking everyone from doctors to scientists and even your next door neighbor: “What’s going on with our children?! why are so many of them walking around with their hair on fire? why haven’t we found a way to extinguish the flames yet?”


For parents of children diagnosed with autism, the urgency we feel as the CDC announced today that 1 in 88 American children are now diagnosed with some form of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, is akin to a raging fire burning out of control with no water in sight.

The new data, which also shows that 1 in 54 boys are diagnosed with an ASD —  making them five times more likely to have the disorder than girls — was  based on a study conducted by the Autism Spectrum Disorder Monitoring Network , or ADDM.

The study, which gathered data on children living in 14 different areas within the United States and “comprised over eight percent of the United States population of 8-year-olds in 2008,”  focused on 8-year-olds with the presumption that most children that present with symptoms are identified and subsequently diagnosed with an ASD by that age.

The numbers, according to the CDC website:

2007: CDC’s ADDM Network reports that about 1 in 150 children have an ASD

2009: CDC’s ADDM Network reports that 1 in 110 children have an ASD

2012: CDC’s ADDM Network reports that 1 in 88 children have an ASD

Estimated prevalence of ASDs increased 23% during 2006 to 2008 and 78% during 2002 to 2008.

What causes autism? There are many theories, and I can only speak to my personal beliefs and experiences. in the case of our son Andrew, we know that many factors were at play, including a compromised immune system at birth due to undiagnosed Cystic Fibrosis and an onslaught of environmental triggers that created the perfect storm.

But what’s relevant today are the numbers: 1 in 88.

And while the spectrum is wide and varied, and not every child diagnosed with an ASD is non-verbal or severely cognitively delayed and physically impacted like my son, many are still struggling in other ways, in classrooms and on playgrounds across the country.

All of these children, regardless of the severity of their diagnosis, are both in need and deserving of therapies and interventions designed to provide them with the opportunities to succeed in life and, as is the case for Andrew, gain as much independence as possible through these therapies. with school districts and state-funded programs strapped for cash and insurance companies doing everything they can to make coverage for these services difficult to attain by parents for their children, I can’t help but wonder: What now?

My son’s classroom has 8 students, including him. There is one special education teacher (who is fabulous), and three aides. These kids are some of the most beautiful angels on earth, and just being in their presence gives me clarity and perspective; you’d count yourself lucky to be touched by their grace and unique outlook on life. But not once has there been a time that I’ve stopped by when I haven’t seen one of these amazing children whimper from pain, act out in defiance from frustration, or withdraw completely from being misunderstood.

There hasn’t been a day that I’ve gone into that room and not witnessed the side of autism that leaves parents desperate for an answer while they forsake everything in an attempt to help their child.

And while I can only speak to the challenges that my own child with autism deals with, such as not being able to talk or perceive danger of any kind, and pick at his hands until they bleed because it’s the only way to make the unruly world a little more tolerable, I can speak to the fear that many of us in the same boat feel as we watch more and more children suffer at the hands of a diagnosis that is spreading like wildfire, with no concrete cause or solution in sight.

1 in 88 folks. There’s a story behind every number.

See this post in its original form, and read more on OC Moms: The Mom Blog.

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