US Pharm. 2013;38(1):8.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), a range of complex
neurodevelopmental disabilities, are characterized by social impairment
and communication difficulties that are apparent in young children. The
most severe form is autism; the mildest form is Asperger’s syndrome. ASD
prevalence has been increasing since the 1990s, and in 2012 the CDC
noted that 1 in 88 children aged 8 years had an ASD. The Children’s
Health Act of 2000 authorized the CDC to estimate ASD prevalence by
establishing the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM)
Network. The ADDM obtains information from children’s evaluation
records to determine the presence of ASD symptoms at any time from birth
through the end of the year in which the child turns 8 years old.
ADDM Findings: The ADDM Network monitors just 14
states, which is a major limitation to generalizing findings. In 2008,
11.3 of 1,000 children aged 8 years had an ASD; significantly more boys
(1 in 54) than girls (1 in 252) were affected. Non-Hispanic white
children (11.9 per 1,000) were significantly more affected than
non-Hispanic black children (10.2 per 1,000) and Hispanic children (7.9
per 1,000). From 2006 to 2008, ASD prevalence increased 23% (from 9 per
1,000 to 11 per 1,000); the percentage increase was similar between boys
(23%) and girls (22%). Changes in ASD prevalence from 2006 to 2008
varied by race, but all increases were significant. There was a 16%
increase in prevalence among non-Hispanic white children (from 10 to
11.5 per 1,000), a 42% increase among non-Hispanic black children (from 7
to 10 per 1,000), and a 29% increase among Hispanic children (from 6.1
to 7.9 per 1,000). The largest increase was in non-Hispanic black
children. Across ethnic groups, the gap in prevalence seems to have
narrowed over time.
Special-Education Services: Conditions under
which special-education services were received in public schools showed
considerable variation. Autism was the most frequent category (60%),
followed by health or physical disability (8.57%), intellectual
disability (7.12%), speech and language impairment (7%), and specific
learning impairment (6.67%). Developmental delay/preschool, emotional
disturbance, hearing/visual impairment, and multiple disabilities
categories were each less than 5%.
Intellectual Ability: Children who met inclusion
criteria for ASDs showed an uneven distribution in ability. An equal
proportion of ASD children aged 8 years had an IQ score above 85 or a
score of 70 or less, while fewer ASD children had IQ scores between 71
and 85. Forty-six percent of girls with ASDs had IQ scores indicating
intellectual disability, compared with 37% of boys.
To comment on this article, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.