Sleep Me

500% Increase in Autism Prevalence in New York-New Jersey Region

A new study conducted by researchers from Rutgers University has found that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area has increased by as much as 500 percent between 2000 and 2016.[0] This increase was driven by a fivefold increase in cases of autism without intellectual disability, while the rate of autism with intellectual disability only doubled.

The study was based on data from the New Jersey Autism Study, which looked at 8-year-olds in four New Jersey counties biannually as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s efforts to track autism prevalence.[0] Of the 4,661 children with autism identified during the 16-year study period, just over 32% had co-occurring intellectual disability, while the remainder did not.

The researchers found that the prevalence of autism with intellectual disability rose from 2.9 cases to 7.3 cases per 1,000 children over the study period, while cases of autism without intellectual disability jumped from 3.8 to 18.9 per 1,000 children.

The researchers noted that better recognition of autistic children who have average or above-average intellectual abilities may have contributed to the higher prevalence of autism without intellectual disability. However, they also observed that disparities in diagnosis persist and many kids may remain overlooked.[1] Children from affluent areas were 80 percent more likely than those from underserved areas to be flagged as having autism with no intellectual disability, while Black children in this category were 30 percent less likely to be identified as compared to white kids.[2]

Universal autism screening could help bridge these gulfs, which likely reflect inequalities in access to a diagnosis rather than true differences in prevalence, the researchers said.[3] Still, they cautioned that something else may be driving the surge in autism prevalence, as evidenced by the 500 percent increase in cases of autism without any intellectual disabilities.

0. “Autism Rates Surge in NY-NJ Region, Up Fivefold from Study” Mirage News, 26 Jan. 2023,

1. “Study: Even With Fivefold Increase, Autism Likely Undercounted” Disability Scoop, 26 Jan. 2023,

2. “Childhood Autism Diagnosis Is Getting Better, But Not for Everyone” HealthDay News, 26 Jan. 2023,

3. “Racial, economic disparities skew New Jersey data on autism, intellectual disability | Spectrum” Spectrum – Autism Research News, 26 Jan. 2023,

Sleep Me