Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Rates in the United States: Methodologies, Challenges, and Implications for Individual States

  • Emily Ramsey
  • Lisa Kelly-Vance
  • Joseph A. Allen
  • Olivia Rosol
  • Michael Yoerger


Many different studies have been conducted to determine the prevalence rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the United States. The methodologies of these studies have varied, resulting in a multitude of publications with differing prevalence rates. Because there is such a wide range in the results of prevalence studies, it may be difficult for individual states to determine their rates. Accurate prevalence rates are important to obtain for many different reasons including increasing advocacy and awareness, increasing funding, and proper allocation of services for individuals with ASD and their families. Additionally, prevalence studies can be used to assess which groups are more at risk for ASD based off location and environmental factors. This paper describes different methodologies that can be utilized to determine ASD prevalence rates, the strengths and weaknesses of each method, and the challenges to determining accurate rates. This paper also includes the results from a study conducted in Nebraska to determine prevalence rates of ASD in the state. Implications for future prevalence studies are addressed and recommendations are provided.


Autism Autism spectrum disorder Prevalence rates Intervention Decision-making 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by Autism Action Partnership and the Weitz Family Foundation.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no additional conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Ramsey
    • 1
  • Lisa Kelly-Vance
    • 2
  • Joseph A. Allen
    • 3
  • Olivia Rosol
    • 1
  • Michael Yoerger
    • 3
  1. 1.School Psychology, Department of PsychologyUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA
  2. 2.School Psychology Graduate ProgramUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA

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