Special education students across the nation are increasingly likely to have autism, with new data showing that the percentage has more than doubled in recent years.

Nearly 13% of students with disabilities had autism during the 2022-2023 school year. By comparison, just shy of 5% had such a diagnosis in 2008-2009.

The information comes from a report issued recently by the U.S. Department of Education looking at those ages 5 to 21 served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act who are on the spectrum.

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At the high end, 17.28% of students with disabilities in California had autism while just 5.76% did in Montana as of the 2022-2023 school year.

More than 4 out of 5 students with autism nationally were boys, the Education Department found.

About 40% of those with autism spent at least 80% of their day in regular classrooms and roughly 72% ended their time in school by earning a regular high school diploma.

The upward trend in the percentage of special education students with autism comes as overall prevalence has grown. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently estimates that about 1 in 36 children have autism, up from 1 in 150 two decades ago.

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