Autism Spectrum Disorder
Estimates are based on health and education records from participating communities, which includes eight percent of the U.S. population of eight year olds. All children in the studies were eight years old because previous research has shown that most children with an ASD have been identified by this age for services.
In addition to updating prevalence estimates of ASDs, CDC is currently enrolling for the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) to help identify factors that may put children at risk for ASDs and other developmental disabilities. SEED is studying potential risk factors that may be related to genes, health conditions and other factors that affected the mother's pregnancy and the child's first few years of life.
We naturally think of a child's growth as height and weight, but from birth to 5 years, a child should reach milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks and acts. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of ASD or other developmental disability.
Through the "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program, CDC and its partners work together to educate parents about child development, including early warning signs of ASDs and other developmental disorders, and encourage developmental screening and intervention.
ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities causing major social, communication and behavioral challenges with symptoms typically present before age 3 years. ASDs include autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder- not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. Studies show that early identification and intervention can improve long term outcomes.