Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) FAQs

Diagnosing Autism

Quick GuideAutism Signs, Causes, and Treatment

Autism Signs, Causes, and Treatment

Can adults be diagnosed with an ASD?

Yes, adults can be diagnosed with an ASD. Diagnosis includes looking at the person's medical history, watching the person's behavior, and giving the person some psychological tests. But, it can be more challenging to diagnose an adult because it is not always possible to know about the person's development during the first few years of life, and a long history of other diagnoses may complicate an ASD diagnosis. Because the focus of ASDs has been on children, we still have much to learn about the prevalence and causes of ASDs across the lifespan. Behavioral interventions can be effective for adults coping with a new diagnosis of autism.

How many children with ASDs are being served through public special education programs?

In 2007, 258,305 children 6 through 21 years of age and 39,434 children 3 through 5 years of age were served under the "autism" classification for special education services. Not all children with an ASD receive special education services under the classification of "autism," so the education data are not meant to represent the actual number of people with an ASD.

Has the number of children being served under an ASD classification in public special education programs changed?

Yes. between1998 to 2007, the number of 6 to 21 year old children receiving services for an ASD in public special education programs increased from 54,064 to 258,305. While it is clear that more children are getting special education services for ASDs than ever before, it is important to remember that this classification was only added in the early 1990s. Growth in the number of children classified may be caused in part by the addition of autism as a special education category.

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