Washington, D.C. (March 27, 2014) – Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on the prevalence of Autism in the United States, identifying 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

As Autism Speaks Predisent Liz Feld stated, “Behind each of these numbers is a person living with autism. Autism is a pressing public health crisis that must be prioritized at the national level. We need a comprehensive strategy that includes the research community, policymakers, educators, and caregivers coming together to address our community’s needs across the lifespan.”

The new CDC report shows that differences in Autism prevalence continue to be seen along ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status, reminding us that access to care and awareness continue to be an issue that must be addressed. In their news conference, Autism Speaks informed that the increase in prevalence is likely due to greater awareness of autism, but research has to continue identifying factors that contribute to the risks of an autism diagnosis. Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer, Robert Ring, emphasized the following: “Though autism can be identified and diagnosed as early as age two, the average age of initial diagnosis continues to hover around four and a half years. This means that many individuals are missing out on the transformative outcomes that intensive early interventions can offer. If we’re going to make a direct and meaningful impact in the lives of these children, reducing the average age of diagnosis must be a priority moving forward.”

Autism is still not perfectly understood and this new CDC report should be a warning sign for us to do something about it. In fact, an Autism Speaks funded study concluded that Autism could impact as many as 1 in 38 children. Therefore, it is more important than ever to celebrate this year’s World Autism Awareness Day next Wednesday, April 2nd and light it up blue while celebrating Autism Awareness Month throughout April. Millions of families are affected and they need our support, guidance, and understanding.

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