Latest Autism News

latest autism news


For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported on its efforts to expand the tracking of children with autism to include teens. Previous reports have covered four and 8-year-old children on the spectrum.


The US federal agency has examined and researched the prevalence of autism among 8-year-olds in various locations across the United States in the past. The collected data provided an estimate of the number of children believed to have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). More recently, the CDC started studying the data on 4-year-olds as well.


Alarming Results

In a breakthrough, the Journal of Adolescent Health published a 2018 study about teenagers (aged 16) with ASD. The study was conducted by CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Five US states were covered: Wisconsin, Georgia, Arkansas, Maryland and Utah. The study focussed on 2010 records of 8-year-olds. The aim was to determine how these kids – aged 16 by the time the study was conducted – had fared. More than half of teens with ASD were also diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety. Alarmingly, nearly 17% had “indications of suicidal behavior/ideation,” the study discovered.


For a significant number of these cases (14.7%), an ASD diagnosis was initially ruled out. However, about 11.6% of children who had autism were not identified till age 8, the study reported. This was especially true for kids from Hispanic families. These children were verbal, had a low birth weight, possessed high IQ or adaptive scores and had comorbid neuropsychological conditions.


On the bright side, the researchers discovered that plans were available for all teens on the spectrum to aid their transition into adulthood. However, the study also remarked 30% of these plans lacked goals related to living arrangements, daily life skills, and engagement with the community.


“In this first ADDM Network report on children aged 16 years with ASD, we identified factors associated with ASD identification after age 8 years that may be useful to providers when screening and diagnosing ASD to ensure that children are identified and receive services as early as possible,” the researchers commented.


The report is part of the CDC’s widespread efforts to record the experiences of autistic children as they grow. The organisation’s recent report on 8-year-olds found that prevalence of the developmental disability has increased by 20%.


Next Steps

Epidemiologist Michelle Hughes, who led the study, reported that the CDC intends to release additional findings on the group of 16-year-olds in the latest report with details on services and transition planning. We can also expect to see a report on autistic individuals who were 16 in 2020. This means that insights will be available for adults with autism as well.


In the future, data collection for teens will be similar to CDC’s reporting methods for children aged 4 and 8. In addition, the organisation is also piloting an effort to collect data about adolescents with autism to assess how high school experiences influence them.



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