- The prevalence of developmental disabilities increased from 7.4% in 2019 to 8.6% in 2021 for children ages 3-17, according to a National Health Interview Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Although the CDC called the increase "significant," it said there were no notable changes in the prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disability over the same period. This indicates the increase is connected to the "other developmental delay" category.
- The survey also found that boys and Black, non-Hispanic children were more likely to be diagnosed with any developmental disability. The prevalence of any developmental disabilities was similar for various age groups, but the survey showed the prevalence of intellectual disability increased with a child's age.
A report on the survey results, which comes from the nationally representative NHIS household survey, does not examine why there's been an increase in developmental disabilities diagnoses. However, the statistics align with other research and data collected by the federal government.
A March report from CDC found 1 in 36 children age 8 were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2020. That included 4% of boys and 1% of girls. That ratio was at 1 in 150 two decades prior and narrowed to 1 in 44 in 2018.
The March report also noted an interesting trend: For the first time, the prevalence of autism in 8-year-olds was lower among White children compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Over the years, advocates have voiced concerns about the underidentification of students of color with autism.
Of the students ages 5-21 receiving special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in fall 2020, 11.6% had autism and 6.1% had intellectual disabilities, according to a report to Congress from the U.S. Department of Education released in 2022.
According to the Education Department's report, American Indian or Alaska Native students ages 5-21 were 3 1/2 times more likely to be served under IDEA in fall 2020 for developmental delays than were students in all other racial/ethnic groups combined.
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander students showed the highest prevalence of autism, and Black or African American students the highest rates of intellectual disabilities, for students served under IDEA.