Rates of all forms of autism in the U.S. may be substantially higher than previously estimated, according to a new government report that found that 1 out of every 50 school-age children – roughly one on every school bus – has the condition.
That's dramatically higher than the 1 in 88 announced by a different government agency last year. The numbers keep climbing in part because of different methods of counting.
The present study asked 100,000 parents across the country a range of health questions, including whether their child had been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and whether he or she currently had the diagnosis. The autism spectrum includes autism, the most severe form, as well as Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
The study looked at children ages 6-17 and was based on parent reports, while last year's study looked at 8-year-olds whose diagnosis was noted in school district or other official records.
The fact that the new study found such high rates implies that "there will likely be more demand for (autism-related) services than we had previously thought," said study author Stephen J. Blumberg, a senior scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics.
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