4 min · Special Needs
July 26, 2023

State of Autism Acceptance Report in United States

Half of Americans want more accommodation for the autistic community, yet less than a third would trust someone with autism in a professional setting.

New research uncovers the disconnect between autism awareness and actual integration into American society.

More than half of Americans want society to do more to accommodate people with autism, according to new research we’ve made, yet only 29 percent would feel comfortable during an appointment with a skilled professional diagnosed on the spectrum.

State of Autism Acceptance Report, conducted with third party research firm YouGov, revealed the glaring gap between autism awareness and autism acceptance among the American population.

Although portrayals of people with autism in popular television shows like Shaun Murphy of ABC’s “The Good Doctor” and Julia on PBS’s “Sesame Street” have resulted in nearly half of Americans (46 percent) to feel more empathetic towards the autistic community, only a mere 31 percent agree that these characters accurately depict the disorder in daily life.

Highlights from the State of Autism Acceptance Report

Highlights from the State of Autism Acceptance Report include:

  • More Autism Integration into Society: Half of Americans want more representation of people with autism in popular culture and more than half (55 percent) believe that society should do more to accommodate people with autism. What’s more, over two in five Americans (43 percent) say that access to therapy methods should be available for free.

Read: Social Relationships with Autism

autism integration into society

  • Confident but Concerned When Raising a Child with Autism: Approximately half of Americans (49 percent) would be worried about the financial burden of raising a child diagnosed on the spectrum, while a majority reported they would be worried about their child being bullied (76 percent). Additionally, 75 percent would be concerned about the child’s social life and 66 percent would be worried about the lack of opportunities throughout the child’s life.

Read: Helping your Child with Autism

top concerns of raising a child with autism

  • The Generation Gap: Baby Boomers vs. Millennial Concerns: Overall, baby boomers (those aged 55 or older) were more likely to express concern than millennials (those aged 18-34) when asked about their feelings regarding raising a child on the spectrum. Baby boomers were most commonly concerned with the child’s social life (81 percent) amongst the listed issues, while millennials were most commonly concerned with the child being bullied (70 percent). Only 38 percent of millennials would be concerned about the financial burden compared to a majority (56 percent) of baby boomers.

The Generation Gap in Autism Awareness

  • Lack of Trust in People with Autism as Working Professionals: A majority of Americans agree that people with autism are capable of being independent individuals (67 percent); however, only 27 percent would trust the judgement of a services professional (i.e., IT technician, plumber) and less than a quarter (24 percent) of the population would trust an esteemed professional (i.e., doctor, lawyer) diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Less than half of Americans (47 percent) would keep their appointment with a highly skilled professional if they found out s/he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum disorder.

Read: Autism in the workspace

Lack of Trust in People with Autism as Working Professionals

  • Financial Burden and Autism Acceptance: Apart from being an emotional feat, raising a child on the spectrum can be a huge financial burden on families. A 2014 study states that in the U.S. and UK, the costs exceed $1.4 million . While autism acceptance and awareness is becoming increasingly talked about, the financial impact on families goes largely ignored. There are many financial and non-financial costs that go into caring for an autistic child such as special schooling, equipment, health insurance, round-the-clock attention and more. However, there are many governmental and private organizations out there that specifically aim to help these families, in financial aspects.

Read: Otsimo’s Game Based Special Education Apps Help Learners Improve Focus and Develop Practical Skills

Autism is not a one-time concern

“Autism enters the spotlight every April for Autism Awareness Month, but autism is not a one-time concern,” said Otsimo CEO and co-founder Hasan Zafer Elcik. “It deserves attention not just once a year, but on an ongoing basis. Knowing that one in 36 children are identified with autism, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we cannot stand idly by. Autism does not call for heartbreak or pity, it calls for action and accountability to make meaningful impact for these individuals throughout their lives. This starts with a shift in mindset and a ground-up approach to empathy. This research further indicates that society has its work cut out to actually increase autism acceptance in the world today.”

You can check out the full State of Autism acceptance report here .

About Otsimo Otsimo is democratizing access to special education through its leading game-based learning app, teaching children core skills vital to cognitive and behavioral development. Its direct-to-family model makes it affordable, accessible and easy-to-use. Designed with direct feedback from families, children and industry professionals, Otsimo’s educational games incorporate both applied behavior analysis (ABA) and alternative augmented communication (AAC) therapy methods to develop and sharpen core competencies at an early age.

Otsimo was co-founded in 2015 by CEO Hasan Zafer Elcik, who wanted to help his younger brother after he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum disorder. Following a 48-hour hackathon with his college roommate Sercan Degirmenci, now CTO, the Otsimo app was created to keep children with special needs engaged in educational programs, at little-to-no cost to families.

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All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1202 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 19th April 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

Last updated: December 2023


This article is examined by Clinical Child Psychologist and Ph. D. Researcher Kevser Çakmak, and produced by Otsimo Editorial Team.

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This post does not provide medical advice. See Additional Information.