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Supportive employment for adults with developmental disabilities

Autism Facts

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as defined by Autism Lifespan is: A neurological disorder that impairs the development of a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder- meaning the symptoms can occur in any combination and with varying degrees of severity.

With autism comes the triad of impairments. This commonly used phrase helps describe the three main areas of difficulty people with autism exhibit. These include; social interactions, language including non-verbal communication, and imagination, which lead to repetitive and restricted behaviors.

At this point the cause of autism is unknown, but medical professionals believe there is a genetic predisposition which is triggered by an environmental factor causing autism or autistic tendencies to occur.

There is no cure for autism. With a combination of treatments and therapy, a child can become more efficient in social interactions, communication and imaginative play.



  • Occurs in 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys (2)
  • More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder (4)
  • Is the fastest growing developmental disability (2)
  • Receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases (2)
  • Boys are 5 times more likely to have autism than girls (2)
  • Has a 10-17% annual growth (1)
  • U.S. population increase:13%
  • Disability increase: 16%
  • Autism increase: 172%
  • Autism research represents 0.55% of total National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation $30.86 billion budget (2)
  • Costs $268 billion dollars in the US in 2015 (5)
  • Adult services cost – $175-196 billion, compared to $61-66 billion for children (4)
  • Cost of lifelong care can be reduced 2/3 with early diagnoses and intervention (4)
  • In 10 years the annual projected cost will be $461 billion dollars if autism increase rates remain flat and will top $1 trillion dollars if autism’s prevalence continues the steep rise seen over the last decade (5)

    Statistic Footnotes

    1. Based on prevalence statistics from the center of disease control and prevention (2013).

    2. The Autism Society of America, August 2015.

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