CDC https://www.cdc.gov funds the “Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring” (ADDM) Network to estimate the number of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities living in different areas of the U.S.
Data included in the ADDM Network estimates are combined from eleven communities within Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. The eleven communities surveyed represent about eight percent of eight year old children in the U.S.
The ADDM Network describes the population of children with ASD and compares ASD in different areas of the country, identifies ASD occurrence over time, and examines the impact of ASD and related conditions in communities. The tracking system shows slightly higher estimates on the prevalence and characteristics of ASD found in children in more than 300.000 eight year olds.
Some of the increase noted related to ASD may be due to improved autism identification in minority populations, although autism is still more likely to be identified in white children than in black or Hispanic children.
The report “Community Report on Autism 2018” provides a snapshot of ASD and denotes racial and ethnic differences in children identified with ASD. Previous studies have shown that children lacking access to healthcare, children that are not citizens, children facing socioeconomic barriers, and where their primary language is not English, are not always easily identified as children with ASD especially among Hispanic children.
Stuart Shapira MD, PhD, Associate Director for Science at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, reports several reasons for the increase in minority populations now being identified with autism. He said, “The higher number of black and Hispanic children being identified with autism could be due to more effective outreach in minority communities but also the increased efforts to have all children screened for autism.”
Service providers such as healthcare organizations and school systems use the information obtained from the Network to provide better resources and services needed by black and Hispanic children with ASD. Also, the Network enables researchers to examine how ASD affects children differently by sex, race/ethnicity, intellectual ability, and by what the community offers.
Lastly, policymakers and community leaders can use the information obtained to develop policies and promote early identification and equity in access to services and to make sure that all children get the help they need.
Go to https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/adm-community-report/documents/addm-community-report/index.htm for the “Community Report on Autism 2018”.