A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Arizona

Download and print this page pdf icon[408 KB, 2 Pages]

Findings from the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (ADDSP) help us to understand more about the number of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the characteristics of those children, and the age at which they are first evaluated and diagnosed.

Map of Arizona
1 in 40

Or 2.5% of 8-year-old children in an area of Arizona were identified with ASD by ADDSP in 2018

Chart showing prevalence in Arizona in 2021

This percentage is higher than the overall percentage identified with ASD (2.3%) in all communities where CDC tracked ASD among 8-year-olds in 2018.

Among 8-year-olds

White children were 1.3x as likely to be identified with ASD as Hispanic children

Bar chart showing white children were 1.3x as likely to be identified with ASD as Hispanic children

Values indicate prevalence per 1,000 children

8-year-old boys

Were 3.4x as likely to be identified with ASD as girls

Icons showing 3.4x

4-year-old boys

Were 4.7x as likely to be identified with ASD as girls

Icons showing 4.7x

About 1 in 99

Or 1% of 4-year-old children were identified with ASD by ADDSP in 2018

Chart 1% of 4-year-old children were identified with ASD by ADDSP in 2018

This percentage is lower than the overall percentage identified with ASD (1.7%) in all communities where CDC tracked ASD among 4-year-olds in 2018.

IQ data were available for 88%

Of 8-year-old children identified with ASD by ADDSP

Pie chart showing IQ data

Children who were born in 2014 (0.86%) were 1.5x as likely to receive an ASD diagnosis or ASD special education classification by 48 months of age compared to children who were born in 2010 (0.58%)

Chart - ASD diagnosis or special education classification

Cumulative incidence of ASD identified per 1000 children.

What are the key take-away messages?
  • More children with average or above average intelligence quotient scores are being identified with ASD since ADDSP started tracking ASD in 2000.
  • White children were more likely to be identified with ASD than Black or Hispanic children. This may reflect cultural or socioeconomic differences and/or differences in access to diagnostic and therapeutic services.
  • Although Hispanic children are less likely to be identified with ASD compared to non-Hispanic children in Arizona, the difference has been decreasing over the years.
  • As has been seen in previous years, the percentage of boys identified with ASD is higher than girls; a better understanding of sex differences may also lead to the development of more effective screening tools for ASD in boys and girls.
  • More children are being diagnosed with ASD by age 4 years than in previous reports.
How can this information be useful?

ADDSP’s latest findings can be used to:

  • Promote early identification of ASD.
  • Plan for the service needs of individuals with ASD and provide trainings related to ASD for healthcare providers and families.
  • Guide ASD research.
  • Inform policies that promote improved outcomes in health care and education for individuals with ASD.
  • Identify cultural, educational, and economic barriers to decreasing the age of evaluation for and diagnosis of ASD.
  • Improve screening tools to increase accuracy of screening for ASD.
  • Improve collaborations in the ASD community among providers, researchers, and families.
How and where was this information collected?

ADDSP uses a record review method. Specifically, this information is based on the analysis of data collected from the health and special education  records of children who were 4 years old and 8 years old and living in part of Maricopa county in metropolitan Phoenix in 2018.

8-year-old children in tracking area: 13,313

  • 43% White
  • 7% Black
  • 43% Hispanic
  • 4% Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 3% American Indian or Alaska Native

4-year-old children in tracking area: 13,929

  • 44% White
  • 8% Black
  • 41% Hispanic
  • 3% Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 4% American Indian or Alaska Native

* Estimates may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

What else does ADDSP do besides provide estimates of ASD?

ADDSP collaborates with the Arizona Department of Health Services and investigators from the University of Arizona to track the percentage and characteristics of 4-year-olds and 8-year-old children with ASD. ADDSP also provides extensive ASD and developmental disabilities-related outreach and training of students, parents, educators, and clinicians. Further, ADDSP data help guide ASD research in the public health community. ADDSP seeks to expand research on adults with ASD.

Resources

“Los datos recolectados por la Red ADDM proveen una visión crítica sobre las necesidades de la comunidad de personas con autismo. Estos datos fundamentan la necesidad de mejoras en el acceso a evaluaciones de diagnóstico. El diagnóstico temprano es crucial porque promueve resultados positivos para la vida de todos aquellos afectados por el autismo”.

– Joshua Anbar, PhD,
Centro de Investigación y Recursos sobre el Autismo del Suroeste (SARRC).

ARIZONA AUTISM COALITION
www.azautism.orgexternal icon

ARIZONA EARLY
INTERVENTION PROGRAM
602-542-4446
www.des.az.gov/services/disabilities/developmental-infantexternal icon

AZ FIND
928-637-1871
www.azed.gov/specialeducation/az-findexternal icon

AZA UNITED
602-773-5773
www.azaunited.orgexternal icon

CDC’S LEARN THE SIGNS.
ACT EARLY.
Megan Wills
Arizona’s Act Early Ambassador
www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/ambassadors-list.html

RAISING SPECIAL KIDS
602-242-4366
www.raisingspecialkids.orgexternal icon

SOUTHWEST AUTISM
RESEARCH AND RESOURCE
CENTER (SARRC)
602-340-8717
www.autismcenter.orgexternal icon

AUTISM SOCIETY OF
SOUTHERN ARIZONA
520-770-1541
www.as-az.orgexternal icon

CONNECT WITH ADDSP
Sydney Pettygrove, PhD
Argelia Benavides, MPH
University of Arizona Health
Sciences Center
sydneyp@arizona.edu
argeliab@email.arizona.edu