The prevalence of autism in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births. This upward trend in diagnosis in the US means that the number of adults with ASD is expected to top 3 million by 2020. Of those adults with ASD, 90 percent are unemployed or underemployed and 70% will be unable to live independently – and there is a strong link between joblessness and depression, putting these adults at a high-risk of suicide and other depression-related concerns.
The rise in autism will clearly have a major impact at all levels of society. For example, recent studies have estimated a lifetime cost of $1.4M-$2.4M per person, spent on therapies, medications, and other assistance.
Most importantly, almost half of those diagnosed with ASD are of average or above-average intellectual ability. There is evidence that job-focused training and support services, especially in the transition to adulthood, can make a huge difference, leading to higher levels of employment, more independence, and better quality of life.
There are over 9,000 children in Oregon receiving special education services for autism spectrum disorder.