About CDC's Work on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Photo of mother playing with child

Promoting Early Identification of ASD

We naturally think of a child’s growth as height and weight, but from birth to 5 years, a child should reach milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of ASD or other developmental disability.

Through the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program, CDC and its partners aim to improve early identification of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities by promoting developmental monitoring, so children and families can get the services and support they need.

Understanding Risk Factors and Causes of ASD

Understanding the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will help us learn more about the causes. CDC is currently funding and working on one of the largest U.S. studies to date, called Study to Explore Early Development (SEED).

SEED will help identify factors that may put children at risk for ASD and other developmental disabilities. SEED is a multi-year study being conducted at six sites and a data coordinating center, called the Centers for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) network.

Photo: girl sitting a stack of books playing on a computer

Determining How Many People Have ASD

There continue to be many children living with ASD who need services and support, both now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.

By studying the number of people identified with ASD over time, we can find out if the number is rising, dropping, or staying the same. We can also compare the number of children with ASD in different areas of the country and different groups of people. This information can help us look for causes of ASD.

To learn more about this work, please visit our Research Page »