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Center for Disease Control
Framework for Autism Prevention and Control
Source:    www.cdc.gov
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FACT: It is not known how many children in the United States currently have autism spectrum disorders. Studies done in Europe and Asia since 1985 indicate that there may be as many as 2/1,000 children who have one of the autism spectrum disorders.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of life-long developmental disabilities caused by an abnormality of the brain. ASD are characterized by problems with social interaction and communication skills, and by the need for sameness or repetition in behavior. ASD includes autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified (also known as atypical autism), and Aspergerís disorder.

Children with ASD require long-term care and services. Special education costs for a child with ASD are over $8,000 per year, with some specially structured programs costing about $30,000 per year, and care in a residential school costs $80,000 - $100,000 per year.

Little is known about what causes ASD, although genetic and environmental factors have been suggested. There is no cure for ASD, however, early and intensive education can help children develop skills. Also, although available medicines cannot cure ASD, some may relieve symptoms associated with the disorders.

Surveillance Activities for Autism

1.  Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP)

We are presently piloting the addition of autism spectrum disorders to the established Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP).  We hope to use data from MADDSP to monitor the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders and to conduct special studies in the future.

2.  CDC-Funded State Surveillance Projects

  1. Marshall University conducts regional population-based surveillance of autism spectrum disorders in West Virginia.
  2. Starting in October 2000, CDC began funding activities in Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and South Carolina to develop or enhance surveillance programs for autism and other developmental disabilities.

Research Activities for Autism

The Children's Longitudinal Development Study (CHILD)

The Childrenís Longitudinal Development Study (CHILD Study) is an ongoing case-control study in which detailed information will be obtained on pre- and perinatal medical conditions and suspected risk factors for select disabilities (including autism) among children identified through the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP).

Secondary Conditions

Depending on the severity of impairment, many people with autism may require special medical care, educational and social services, and lifelong assistance from their family and community.

Prevention of Secondary Conditions Related to Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder

The Marshall University Autism Training Center, in West Virginia, is conducting an intervention study with families of children who have autism. Researchers at Marshall University have developed a comprehensive program aimed at reducing stressors that adversely affect children with autism and their families. The program centers on development of family support plans. These plans coordinate professional activities with the children, provide positive behavior support training for parents and teachers,and facilitate community partnerships, usually with another family who  has a child with autism. The Developmental Disabilities Branch of CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) provides research funds and technical assistance to this project.

Funding Period: 9/1/98 - 8/31/99

State Capacity Projects

The Secondary Conditions Prevention Branch of the Division of Child Development, Disability, and Health is funding state capacity projects that are attempting to determine the magitude of secondary conditions that may occur in broader domains (many of which affect individuals with autism) in an effort to determine human and economic costs within 14 states. These domains include mobility, communication, learning, and personal care/home management.

For More Information:

Developmental Disabilities Branch
Division of Birth Defects, Child Development, 
and Disability and Health
National Center for Environmental Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Highway NE
Mailstop F-15
Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3724
FAX: (770) 488-7361

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