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One in Five American Children May Suffer From a Mental Disability

Posted on Jun 04, 2013

On Thursday, May 16, 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a staggering report. The report, which was mostly based on data from surveys, said that as many as one out of every five children in the United States suffers from a mental disorder. This includes children with a variety of conditions, including autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and Tourette’s syndrome, 

The data was collected from 2005 to 2011 and focused on children ages 3 to 17 years. 

The most common diagnosis was attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mental Disability Percent of Children Affected
Behavioral or conduct disorders 3.5%
Depression 2%
Autism 2%

Based on the data, the CDC estimated that between 13 and 20 percent of U.S. children suffer from a mental disorder at an estimated annual cost of $247 billion. They believe that early intervention is the key to helping children overcome their disabilities and lead healthy, productive lives.

The Obama administration agrees.  On May 21, the federal government announced that it would establish demonstration projects in several states to help young people who receive Supplemental Security Income transition into adult life. The program will make up to $10 million a year available for up to five years to each state chosen to participate in a new initiative, Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE).

More than a million low-income children with disabilities currently receive SSI benefits. Most of those who receive SSI as children continue to receive SSI as adults.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law