Grab yourself a big cup of coffee, as I’m dishing out some numbers…
When our son was first diagnosed with Autism, the autism prevalence rate was just updated by the CDC from 1 in 125 to 1 in 110. As a parent of a newly diagnosed kid, I had absolutely no idea what that really meant.
What does prevalence mean, anyway?
Well, for those non-wordsmiths (like me), I had to look it up. The simplistic definition by the National Institute of Mental Health is: “the proportion of a population who have a specific characteristic in a given time period.”
This past December the CDC announced the updated figures that the prevalence rate of Autism is now 1 in 44.
Think about that for a moment. 1 in 44 individuals are Autistic. This equates to 2.27% of 8 year olds in the United States as being Autistic.
Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is. Because that number is just an average, and I had to learn how the CDC got those figures, as it was an eye opening discussion.
I chatted a while back with Walter Zahorodny, who headed up the New Jersey portion of the CDC Study. Yeah, we dove into where they got the numbers, and didn’t discuss ‘causation’. You can hear our conversation in this podcast episode:
Fascinating insight in how the CDC works hard in getting those figures.
But, back to the realm of that 2%+ prevalence rate, and it’s true impact on how it relates to people being impacted… cause it ain’t just the autistic individuals. It’s the parents, the family members, and the professionals. It’s an industry of people, all pursuing a common goal in helping people be the best that they can be…. And the demographics of those impacted are like autism – a spectrum of people, regardless of race, sexual preference, class or political ideologies or affiliations. And includes families that are in the military and or are civilians.
All of these people involved, from autistic individuals, to family, and the professionals, are all a part of the autism community. So, how many people is that? What is the size of the autism community in the united states?
So, let’s take our current population of the United States, which is currently 329.5 million people. Now, take 2.27% of that – and you’ll get a conservative estimate of 7,479,650 who most likely are Autistic.
There were some folks who read my LinkedIn newsletter and cited some common concerns when dealing with the numbers, so let’s bring in their comments, shall we?
Ok, now I know that these numbers aren’t ‘perfect’, but it’s the only data that we have to go by.
These studies by the CDC have been going on long enough that most 8 year olds who qualified as autistic 20 years ago, are now adults. There has also been many people who have just discovered they’ve been autistic their whole lives.
The point of this exercise is to explore, even at a conservative estimate, how prevalent autism really is… and the bottom line is that it’s a lot of people are autistic, and there are a lot of people who support autistic individuals. One day we may discover a far more accurate way to address these numbers, but in the meantime, this is what we’ve been dealt.
Now… let’s get back to the numbers…
Then you take the number of Autistic people – about 7,479,650 , and multiply it by two (because any autistic individual has a mom or dad or guardian supporting them, right?). Now that number swells to 14,959,300. These are the families directly impacted by autism in some way, and are constantly searching for services, staying up long hours, and doing the best they can – on a daily basis. This is 4.54% of the US population.
But, wait, we’re not done yet….
Then you triple that figure, as most autistic kids have at least 1 special ed teacher, and least a couple of therapists.
So, how many people are impacted by autism in some way? Either directly as being autistic or a family member… or indirectly as a teacher or therapist?
44,877,900… and this is a conservative estimate.
This 44.8 million is about 13.62% of the United States population. This places the autism community in the united states having more people involved in it than the nation of Ukraine, which is currently ranked at #35 in population compared with 235 other nations.
The autism community has grown and changed exponentially over the years, as we’ve all learned new things and the community has grown.
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What resonated with you with these figures and this episode? I’d love to know.