What Is Autism?: Facts and Stats

— Autism Society
Updated on Jul 28, 2009
  • 1 in 150 births(1)
  • 1 to 1.5 million Americans(2)
  • Fastest-growing developmental disability
  • 10 - 17 % annual growth
  • Growth comparison during the 1990s(3):
    • U.S. population increase: 13%
    • Disabilities increase: 16%
    • Autism increase: 172%
  • $90 billion annual cost(4)
  • 90% of costs are in adult services(4)
  • Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention(4)
  • In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion(5)


  1. Based on prevalence statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007).
  2. Based on the autism prevalence rate of 2 to 6 per 1,000 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001) and 2000 U.S. Census figure of 280 million Americans.
  3. U.S. Department of Education's "Twenty-First Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act" (1999).
  4. Jarbrink K, Knapp M, 2001, London School of Economics study: "The economic impact on autism in Britain," 5 (1): 7-22.
  5. ASA calculates that the annual cost of autism will increase to $200-400 billion in 10 years. February 2003
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