National and State Estimates of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder


U.S. national and state population-based estimates of adults living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are nonexistent due to the lack of existing surveillance systems funded to address this need. Therefore, we estimated national and state prevalence of adults 18–84 years living with ASD using simulation in conjunction with Bayesian hierarchal models. In 2017, we estimated that approximately 2.21% (95% simulation interval (SI) 1.95%, 2.45%) or 5,437,988 U.S. adults aged 18 and older have ASD, with state prevalence ranging from 1.97% (95% SI 1.55%, 2.45%) in Louisiana to 2.42% (95% SI 1.93%, 2.99%) in Massachusetts. Prevalence and case estimates of adults living with ASD (diagnosed and undiagnosed) can help states estimate the need for diagnosing and providing services to those unidentified.

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The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

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PMD conceived of the study, wrote the manuscript except for the methods; CER provided statistical expertise and conducted the analysis, wrote the methods section of the manuscript; DM conducted an independent analysis for quality control, downloaded and prepared data for analysis, and created Figures 1 and 2; MM provided statistical and data expertise. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript as submitted and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

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Correspondence to Patricia M. Dietz.

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Dietz, P.M., Rose, C.E., McArthur, D. et al. National and State Estimates of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 50, 4258–4266 (2020).

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  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Intellectual disability
  • Prevalence estimates
  • Modeling