- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) FAQs Center
- Autism Slideshow Pictures
- Take the Autism Quiz.
- Parenting Principles Slideshow Pictures
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- Do vaccines cause autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)?
- Is there an ASD epidemic?
- Can adults be diagnosed with an ASD?
- How many children with ASDs are being served through public special education programs?
- Has the number of children being served under an ASD classification in public special education programs changed?
- How do the rates of ASDs in special education compare with those of other special education categories?
- What are mitochondrial diseases?
- Is there a link between mitochondrial diseases and ASDs?
Do vaccines cause autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)?
Many studies that have looked at whether there is a relationship between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). To date, the studies continue to show that vaccines are not associated with ASDs.
However, CDC knows that some parents and others still have concerns. To address these concerns, CDC is part of the Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), which is working with the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) on this issue. The job of the NVAC is to advise and make recommendations regarding the National Vaccine Program. Communication between the IACC and NVAC will allow each group to share skills and knowledge, improve coordination, and promote better use of research resources on vaccine topics.
Is there an ASD epidemic?
More people than ever before are being diagnosed with an ASD. It is unclear exactly how much of this increase is due to a broader definition of ASDs and better efforts in diagnosis. However, a true increase in the number of people with an ASD cannot be ruled out. We believe the increase in the diagnosis of ASDs is likely due to a combination of these factors.
CDC is working with partners to study the prevalence of ASDs over time, so that we can find out if the number of children with these disorders is rising, dropping, or staying the same.
We do know that ASDs are more common than we thought before and should be considered an urgent public health concern.
There is still a lot to learn about ASDs. In addition, increased concern in the communities, continued demand for services, and reports estimating a prevalence of about 1 percent show the need for a coordinated and serious national response to improve the lives of people with ASDs.
Quick GuideAutism Signs in Children: What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
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.
How do the rates of ASDs in special education compare with those of other special education categories?
In 2007, according to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act administrative counts, 5,912,586 children 6 through 21 years of age received services through 13 categories in public special education programs. "Specific learning disability" was the most frequent education category identified, followed by "speech and language impairment." Together, these two categories made up nearly 64% of all special education placements. The intellectual disability classification accounted for about 8% (487,854). Autism accounted for about 4% (256,863).
CDC's Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP) found the autism rate among 8-year-old children in 2000 to be 6.5 per 1,000. That's lower than the rate for intellectual disability/mental retardation (12.0 per 1,000) but higher than the rate for cerebral palsy (3.1 per 1,000), hearing loss (1.2 per 1,000), and vision impairment (1.2 per 1,000) found among children of the same age.
What are mitochondrial diseases?
Mitochondria are tiny parts of almost every cell in your body. Mitochondria are like the power house of the cells. They turn sugar and oxygen into energy that the cells need to work. In mitochondrial diseases, the mitochondria cannot efficiently turn sugar and oxygen into energy, so the cells do not work the way they should.
There are many types of mitochondrial disease, and they can affect different parts of the body: the brain, kidneys, muscles, heart, eyes, ears, and others. Mitochondrial diseases can affect one part of the body or many parts. The effects can be mild or very serious.
Not everyone with a mitochondrial disease will show symptoms. However, among the mitochondrial diseases that tend to affect children, symptoms usually appear in the toddler and preschool years.
Is there a link between mitochondrial diseases and ASDs?
A child with an ASD may or may not have a mitochondrial disease. When children have both an ASD and a mitochondrial disease, they sometimes have other problems too, including epilepsy, problems with muscle tone, or movement disorders.
More research is needed to find out how common it is for people to have an ASD and a mitochondrial disease. Right now, it seems rare. In general, more research about mitochondrial disease and ASDs is needed.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). "Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)." Division of Birth Defects, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. 20 July 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/topics.html>.
Autism Spectrum Disorders - Vaccines
Discuss your concern with vaccines and ASDs.Post
Autism Spectrum Disorders - Adult Diagnosis
Do you know an adult who was diagnosed with an ASD? Please share your experience.Post
Autism Spectrum Disorders - Special Education
Briefly, please discuss the special education program for ASDs in your school district or region.Post
Autism Spectrum Disorders - Mitochondrial Diseases
If you have a child with an ASD, has he or she been diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease?Post
Top Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) FAQs Related Articles
Auditory Processing Disorder in ChildrenChildren with auditory processing disorders often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves are loud and clear. Symptoms of auditory processing disorder include low academic performance, behavior problems, difficulty with language and reading, and trouble paying attention. Treatment may involve auditory trainers, environmental modifications, auditory memory enhancement, and auditory integration training.
Autism and CommunicationAutism in children and adults is a developmental disorder, characterized by impaired development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. Autism is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), which is part of a broad spectrum of developmental disorders affecting young children and adults. There are numerous theories and studies about the cause of autism. The treatment model for autism is an educational program that is suitable to an individual's developmental level of performance. There is no "cure" for autism.
Take the Autism QuizTake the Autism Spectrum Disorder Quiz related to the causes, reasons, symptoms, treatment, diagnosis, and therapies for this behavioral disorder.
Cerebral PalsyCerebral palsy (CP) is an abnormality of motor function and postural tone acquired at an early age (even before birth). Cerebral palsy is generally caused by brain trauma. Types of cerebral palsy include: spastic, dyskinetic (dystonic or choreoathetoid), hypotonic, and mixed types. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, and treatment is generally managing the symptoms of the condition.
Depression in ChildrenChildhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include anger, social withdrawal, vocal outbursts, fatigue, physical complaints, and thoughts of suicide. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Developmental ScreeningDevelopmental screening helps doctors and nurses to know if a child is learning basic skills at the right time or if the child might have a problem. Behavioral and developmental disabilities include autism, intellectual disability (also known as mental retardation), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Early intervention and detection of delays can help a child to reach his/her full potential.
Learning DisabilityLearning disabilities can cause an individual to have trouble learning and using skills such as reading, listening, writing, reading, speaking, reasoning, and performing mathematics. There is no cure for learning disabilities. Parents and teachers working together to properly diagnose learning disabilities can properly plan a course of education. For some, medication may be appropriate as complimentary treatment.
Medical Marijuana (Medical Cannabis)Medical marijuana (medical cannabis) is a medicine that is plant based. There are two species of medical marijuana; 1) Cannabis sativa, and 2) Cannabis indica. Medical marijuana is used to treat pain, nausea, anxiety, MS, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms. Medical cannabis is legal in a variety of states in the US. A card or licence is required to purchase medical marijuana in states where it is legal; however, medical cannabis is against Federal law. Medical marijuana comes in a variety of products, for example, gummy bears and other candy, muffins, cookies, drinks, salves, ointments, creams, oils, and wax.
Mitochondrial DiseaseLearn about mitochondrial disease, genetic disease in which include a group of neuromuscular diseases that are caused by damage to the mitochondria Common mitochondrial myopathies include Kearns–Sayre syndrome, myoclonus epilepsy, and mitochondrial encephalomyopathy. Symptoms of mitochondrial disease include heart failure, exercise intolerance, dementia, muscle weakness, movement disorders, deafness, blindness, stroke-like episodes, and more. There is no specific treatment for mitochondrial disease.
SeizureEpilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are many causes of epilepsy. Treatment of epilepsy (seizures) depends upon the cause and type of seizures experienced.
Vaccination FAQsVaccinations increase our ability to fight diseases that may be contagious or even fatal. Immunity occurs by getting the disease or through the use of a vaccine. There are two types of vaccine: inactivated vaccines and vaccines made from live, weakened viruses.