“Two decades ago we were looking at a prevalence of one in 5,000 children. Now we’re looking at one in 100. That really is a staggering increase,” Geraldine Dawson, PhD, chief science officer of advocacy group Autism Speaks, tells WebMD. Dawson said the new numbers justify a huge increase in federal spending on research and treatment.
“The question is what will it take for the federal government to begin to respond to this crisis,” Dawson says. “President Obama during the election campaign made a promise that there would be a billion dollars spent every year on finding the causes of autism. We feel this kind of data coming from a CDC study really requires that level of response.”