Vision – Improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder now and in their future

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses a range of complex developmental disorders characterized by mild-to-severe challenges to social, emotional, and communication abilities. Recent reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the prevalence of ASD may be as high as 1 in 361 for 8-year-old children across the United States, an increase since the previous report, underscoring the importance of improving diagnosis across the lifespan. Additionally, results from the 2020 Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network data suggest that autism continues to be almost four times more prevalent in boys than girls (43 versus 11.4 out of 1,000). Currently, it is estimated that over five million adults in the United States have ASD.2 The cost of caring for those with autism in the United States is projected to rise to $461 billion by 2025. Because most individuals spend 65% of their lives as an adult, a majority of those estimated costs are to provide care and support services to ASD adults over the age of 21.

Since the program’s inception in 2007, the Autism Research Program (ARP) has funded innovative and impactful research with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of those living with ASD as they age. The ARP uses its areas of interest to focus its efforts on improving diagnosis across the lifespan, identifying promising treatment avenues, understanding physical and mental health issues encountered in autistic adults, and factors that will lead to the successful transition for young adults as they move into adulthood. Research leading to effective treatments in all of these areas has the potential to improve the quality of life for those with autism as well as their families and caregivers.


1Maenner MJ, Warren Z, Williams AR, et al. 2023. Prevalence and characteristics of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years – Autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2020. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 72(No. SS-2):1-14.

2Dietz PM, Rose CE, McArthur D, Maenner M. 2020. National and state estimates of adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders Dec;50(12):4258-4266.

Congressional Appropriations

Congressional Appropriations

  • $134.4 million
  • $15 million

Funding Summary


Last updated Friday, July 19, 2024