Public Health Agency of Canada Releases First-Ever National Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Statistics

News release

New numbers show prevalence rates of ASD in Canada similar to those of other nations

March 29, 2018 - Ottawa, ON - Public Health Agency of Canada

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has a significant and life-long impact on people living with the condition and their families. Families of children with ASD face unique challenges and the Government of Canada is committed to supporting them through investments in research and policy. 

Today, the Public Health Agency of Canada, together with the provinces and territories, released the first national ASD prevalence estimates among children aged 5-17 years. The report, Autism Spectrum Disorders Among Children and Youth in Canada 2018: A report of the National Autism Spectrum Disorder Surveillance System, was developed in close cooperation with the provinces, territories and ASD stakeholder groups. 

The report estimates that 1 in 66 Canadian children and youth have an ASD diagnosis, which is in line with findings in similar studies conducted in the United States. The data released today establish a baseline that will help researchers determine if ASD prevalence rates change over time. The data will also help inform the development of policies and services to support Canadians with ASD and their families.


“Our government is committed to supporting individuals with ASD and their families. We heard from parents, stakeholders and researchers that information on the prevalence of ASD data very much needed and today’s report will address that need. I am hopeful that these data, in addition to significant new investments proposed in Budget 2018, can make a difference in the lives of people with ASD and their families.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

“Understanding trends and patterns in ASD diagnosis is essential to developing meaningful programs and services to support people living with ASD and their families. This report represents a significant step forward for scientists and researchers investigating ASD, and forms the foundation for advancing evidence-based decision making.”

Dr. Theresa Tam
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer

Quick Facts

  • Key findings of the National Autism Spectrum Disorder Surveillance System Report include:
    • Among children and youth aged 5-17 years, 1 in 66 has received an ASD diagnosis.
    • Boys have received an ASD diagnosis four times more frequently than girls.
    • More than half (56%) of children and youth with ASD were diagnosed by age six, and more than 90% received a diagnosis by age 12.
  • Canadian prevalence estimates found in the report are similar to the most recent prevalence estimates from the United States, which have identified that 1 in 68 children have an ASD diagnosis and that boys are 4.5 times more likely to have an ASD diagnosis than girls.
  • Budget 2018 proposes to fund two new initiatives to support people living with ASD and their families:
    • A national resource exchange network to help connect people with ASD and their families to information, resources, employment opportunities, and local programming;
    • Funding for community-based projects that will help to reduce stigma and to integrate and strengthen health, social and educational programs. 

Associated Links


Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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