10 Facts Regarding Autism

10 Facts Regarding Autism

Here are 10 facts for parents and professionals seeking to understand and learn more about autism and treatment. Please refer to our literature references below for fact-checking purposes!

  1. Fact: 1 in 54 children in the United States receives a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Boys have a 24% higher chance of receiving an autism diagnosis than girls.
  2. Fact: Not all individuals with autism have an intellectual disability. However, 31% of children with autism have an intellectual disability, with 25% falling within borderline range.
  3. Fact: Early detection in as early as 18 months can lead to better outcomes for children diagnosed with ASD.
  4. Fact: Today’s diagnostic tests identify core symptoms of ASD. These symptoms range from mild to severe. Based on severity, a referral may be provided for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.
  5. Fact: Prior to the start of ABA therapy, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Behavior Analyst must conduct a thorough evaluation, including questionnaires with parents and other stakeholders (parents, paraprofessionals, etc.) and a direct observation that can range anywhere from 4-8 hours and may span across multiple days and environments. Read more about the evaluation process here.
  6. Fact: It is important to follow doctors’ recommendations. Although ABA is an evidence-based treatment for ASD symptoms, other therapies such as Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) and Occupational therapy (OT) can provide a more comprehensive approach.
  7. Fact: The only research-based cause linked to autism (not exclusively) is genetics. Research demonstrates a higher likelihood of ASD in children born to parents (mother or father) who are over 35. ASD has also been found to occur within siblings, especially twins.
  8. Fact: There are various “cures” or “treatments” for autism outside of those recommended by research. Some of these include Facilitated Communication, Hydrotherapy, Educational Kinesiology, and Dolphin therapy. These questionable practice may do more harm than good.
  9. Fact: There are federal and state laws that mandate coverage of therapy for individuals with autism. Please refer to our blog on these laws that prohibit limitations placed on treatment.
  10. Fact: Research tells us that ABA leads to higher satisfaction and quality of life in individuals with autism and their families. ABA therapy targets deficits and replaces harmful behavior (e.g., self-injurious behavior, elopement, physical aggression, PICA) with communication skills using antecedent strategies and postive reinforcement above all else.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Washington, DC: Author.
  2. Durkin MS, Maenner MJ, Newschaffer CJ, Lee LC, Cunniff CM, Daniels JL, … Schieve LA (2008). Advanced parental age and the risk of autism spectrum disorder. American Journal of Epidemiology, 168(11), 1268–1276. 10.1093/aje/kwn250

  3. Grether JK, Anderson MC, Croen LA, Smith D, & Windham GC (2009). Risk of autism and increasing maternal and paternal age in a large north American population. American Journal of Epidemiology, 170(9), 1118–1126. 10.1093/aje/kwp247

  4. Hertz-Picciotto I, Schmidt RJ, Walker CK, Bennett DH, Oliver M, Shedd-Wise KM, … Ozonoff S (2018). A prospective study of environmental exposures and early bio-markers in autism spectrum disorder: Design, protocols, and preliminary data from the MARBLES study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 126(11), 117004 10.1289/ehp535

  5. Jain A, Marshall J, Buikema A, Bancroft T, Kelly JP, Newschaffer CJ (2015) Autism occurrence by MMR vaccine status among US children with older siblings with and without autism. JAMA 313(15): 1534–40. doi: 10.1001/ jama.2015.3077. pmid:25898051.

  6. Lyall K, Song L, Botteron K, et al. The Association Between Parental Age and Autism-Related Outcomes in Children at High Familial Risk for Autism. Autism Res. 2020;13(6):998-1010. doi:10.1002/aur.2303

  7. Perrin JM, Erickson-Warfield M, Zwaigenbaum L eds. Health care for children and youth with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Pediatrics 2016 Feb, 137:supp 2 (http://bit.ly/2jJaGSZ)

  8. Shenoy MD, Indla V, Reddy H. Comprehensive Management of Autism: Current Evidence. Indian J Psychol Med. 2017;39(6):727-731. doi:10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_272_17

  9. Roane HS, Fisher WW, Carr JE. Applied Behavior Analysis as Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Pediatrics. 2016 Aug;175:27-32.

  10. Sumi S, Taniai H, Miyachi T, Tanemura M. Sibling risk of pervasive developmental disorder estimated by means of an epidemiologic survey in Nagoya, Japan. J Hum Genet. 2006; 51: 518-522.

  11. Taniai H, Nishiyama T, Miyahci T, et al. Genetic influences on the board spectrum of autism: Study of proband-ascertained twins. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2008; 147B(6): 844-849.

  12. Witkowski, T. (2016, July 20). Psychology Led Astray: Cargo Cult in Science and Therapy. Brown Walker Press. ISBN: 978-1627346092

  13. Wolff JJ, Gu H, Gerig G, Elison JT, Styner M, Gouttard S, … Piven J (2012). Differences in white matter fiber tract development present from 6 to 24 months in infants with autism. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 169(6), 589–600. 10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.11091447

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