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ASNV Statement on CDC Autism Incidence Rates

Autism Society of Northern Virginia Statement on CDC Autism Incidence Rates

April 26, 2018

Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated the incidence rate of autism among eight year olds in the United States. This updated report occurs every two years. The incidence rate released in April 2016 showed that 1 out of 68 children were living with an autism diagnosis. Today’s incidence rate shows the rate has increased to 1 out of 59 eight year olds.

For those involved in supporting the needs of individuals living with autism and their families, this increase is not surprising. Providers of services know that they are getting more calls for help than ever before. Unfortunately, the demands for help far exceed the available resources to assist individuals and families.

When asked about the increased incidence rate, Scott Badesch, President/CEO of the Autism Society of America, stated, “Today’s announcement by the CDC of the increase of the incidence of autism is not surprising to the Autism Society. We are constantly seeing increased requests and need for services. What is surprising to us is that, despite the increase in the number of people with an autism diagnosis, we still are a nation that appears to accept that 70% of autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed and that as many are forced to live on below poverty income. We wrongly accept that over 50% of students with an autism diagnosis do not graduate high school on time or do not graduate at all. Autism remains a have and have not disorder; those with money are often able to get needed services, while those with limited resources are often denied services and put on waiting lists for up to eight or more years for government supported services. If, like me, you are concerned about today’s incidence rate announcement, commit to calling your elected officials and ask that they do way more than is now being done to help all impacted by autism have the highest quality of life possible.”

For Virginians, receiving an autism diagnosis is no guarantee of support or services. Virginia remains one of the states that provides the least amount of funding for services, and consistently has a low score on disability inclusion. The Autism Society of Northern Virginia is particularly concerned that approximately 12,000 individuals are on the wait list to receive state services, with approximately 3,000 of those individuals being considered high priority because they are in crisis. Autism Society of Northern Virginia Executive Director Elizabeth Roy stated, “The Autism Society of Northern Virginia hopes that these new rates send a clear message to Virginia’s elected officials that autistic individuals are a significant part of our communities and need support, acceptance, and meaningful inclusion. The fact that an individual in Virginia is faced with a ten- to twelve-year wait for community services is unacceptable. Virginia can and must do better.”

The Autism Society of Northern Virginia remains committed to supporting the needs of autistic individuals and their families through our education, advocacy, and support programs. To learn more about autism or access resources, visit our website at or contact the Autism Society of Northern Virginia at 703-495-8444 or

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