Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder affecting how an individual interacts with, communicates, and relates to others and their environment. According to Buescher et al., 2014, it was estimated that 1 in every 68 children born in the United States had autism spectrum disorder in 2010. This number has been steadily increasing over the years, with ASD affecting 1 out of 59 people in 2014, 1 out of 54 by the year 2016, & 1 in 44 by 2018.

Studies show that males are four times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than females(MMWR Surveill Summ 2021). Additionally, studies have found that the prevalence of Autism is higher in white children than in black or Hispanic children (NCBDDD, 2019).

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder varies from country to country, but it is currently estimated that 1 out of 100 children worldwide live with Autism (WHO, 2022). In addition, research suggests that Autism is a lifelong condition, and most individuals show symptoms before age 3 (DSMV, 2013). 

Cost per Child

The average cost of Autism per child in the US is $60,000 annually (Autism Speaks, 2021). This cost can vary depending on the individual’s needs, but it is estimated that the total economic impact of Autism in the US is approximately $223 (175–271) billion/year, and projections suggest $1.36 trillion/year in 2040. (Blaxill 2021). According to research published in PubMed, the cost of Autism for an individual in an entire lifespan is $3.2 million. (Ganz et al. 2007 )    

UK Statistics

In the UK, 1 percent of the adult population of the United Kingdom has an autism spectrum disorder. This means there are around 700,000 autistic adults in the UK (Autism UK, 2021). the cost of Autism to society is estimated at £2.7 billion annually (Knapp et al., 2009). This includes direct costs, such as health and social care services for those with Autism and their families, and indirect costs, such as lost productivity and tax revenue due to unemployment.

Although there is currently no known cause of Autism, research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental factors include prenatal exposure to certain medications, maternal health conditions during pregnancy, advanced parental ages at the time of conception, and environmental toxins (Schmidt et al., 2016). Of note, research also suggests that vaccinations do not cause Autism (CDC, 2019).

Although there is no cure for Autism, early intervention and treatment can help improve a child’s quality of life. This includes therapies such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training (ASHA, 2020). Additionally, research suggests that a combination of medications can help manage some symptoms associated with Autism, such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness (CDC, 2019).

Overall, there is still much to be learned about autism spectrum disorder; however, more research is being conducted daily to improve treatments and support those living with Autism.


  1. World Population Review. (n.a).
  2. Kalkbrenner AE, Schmidt RJ, Penlesky AC. Environmental chemical exposures and autism spectrum disorders: a review of the epidemiological evidence. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2014 Nov;44(10):277-318. doi: 10.1016/j.cppeds.2014.06.001. Epub 2014 Sep 5. PMID: 25199954; PMCID: PMC4855851.
  3. Knapp M, Romeo R, Beecham J. Economic cost of autism in the UK. Autism. 2009 May;13(3):317-36. doi: 10.1177/1362361309104246. PMID: 19369391.
  4. Shaw KA, Maenner MJ, Bakian AV, et al. Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 4 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2018. MMWR Surveill Summ 2021;70(No. SS-10):1–14. DOI: icon
  5. Blaxill, M., Rogers, T. & Nevison, C. Autism Tsunami: the Impact of Rising Prevalence on the Societal Cost of Autism in the United States. J Autism Dev Disord 52, 2627–2643 (2022).

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