Between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, the number children 3 to 21 years old served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B with a designation of autism increased from 661,000 to 710,000. As a percentage of total enrollment, that figure ticked up from 1.3 to 1.4 percent. And as a percentage of all students served, it increased from 9.7 percent to 10.2 percent.
From The National Center for Education Statistics:
Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, mandates the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. Eligible students are those identified by a team of professionals as having a disability that adversely affects academic performance and as being in need of special education and related services. Data collection activities to monitor compliance with IDEA began in 1976.
From school year 2000–01 through 2004–05, the number of students ages 3–21 who received special education services under IDEA increased from 6.3 million, or 13 percent of total public school enrollment, to 6.7 million, or 14 percent of total public school enrollment.1 Both the number and percentage of students served under IDEA declined from 2004–05 through 2011–12. Between 2011–12 and 2017–18, the number of students served increased from 6.4 million to 7.0 million and the percentage served increased from 13 percent of total public school enrollment to 14 percent of total public school enrollment.