New CDC Autism Numbers Highlights the Need for Effective Treatment
Written by Daniel W. Mruzek, PhD, BCBA-D
As many readers have no doubt heard by now, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network recently reported that about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States, with the ASDs almost 5 times more common in boys (1 in 54) than in girls (1 in 252). These numbers represent a sizable increase over previous estimates of the occurrence of ASD and caught the attention of media outlets all over the world.
The CDC attributed improved identification of autism, particularly in historically under-served populations, as one reason for the higher estimate of prevalence, but more research is needed to determine whether there actually are more individuals with autism than in the past. Regardless of all the factors that may be responsible for the increased prevalence estimate, these new estimates highlight the importance of helping families access effective treatment quickly and helping families and others distinguish science-based treatments from unproven or disproven treatments. For marketers of fad “treatments”, “miracle cures” and interventions lacking scientific validation, these most recent CDC numbers are no doubt interpreted as signs of a “growth industry” for their trade. Unfortunately, this trade is too often conducted on the backs of individuals with autism, on the hopes of consumers trying to make the best treatment decisions, and at the expense of hard-earned family income.
As a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by autism, ASAT sees these new CDC numbers as a striking reminder that the need for scientifically validated autism interventions and supports has never been greater. This is true for young, newly diagnosed children who benefit from effective early intervention, for students with autism who, with proper supports, contribute to the richness of our schools, and for adults with autism who have a right to active, meaningful participation in their communities.
We invite you to team up with ASAT in taking a firm stand in the face of deceptive marketers and promoting effective, science-validated treatments for individuals with autism. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of individuals with autism and their families.