A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Arkansas

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Findings from the Arkansas Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (AR ADDM) Program 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 Arkansas

1 in 66

or 1.5% of 8-year-old children in Arkansas were identified with ASD by AR-ADDM in 2016

prevelance of ASD in arkansas

This percentage is lower than the average percentage identified with ASD (1.85%) in 2016 in all communities in the United States where CDC tracked ASD in 2016.

White children were 1.4x more likely

To be identified with ASD than black children

chart showing white children 1.4x more likely to be identified with ASD than black children

White children were 1.7x more likely

To be identified with ASD than Hispanic children

chart showing white children 1.7x more likely to identified with ASD than Hispanic

Arkansas is 1 of 2 sites Where white children were still more likely to be identified with ASD than black children.

Values indicate prevalence per 1,000 children

33% of children

Identified with ASD received a Comprehensive Developmental Evaluation by age 3 years

chart showing 33%

81% of children

Identified with ASD had a documented ASD diagnosis

chart showing 80%

By 56 months
half of children identified with ASD were diagnosed
IQ data available for 96%
Of children identified with ASD by AR-ADDM

IQ data for Arkansas 38% had an intellectual disability

What are the key take-away messages?
  • Many children and families are living with ASD and need services and support, now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.
  • In Arkansas, white children remain more likely to be identified with ASD than black or Hispanic children.
  • Enhanced efforts are needed for early and equitable identification of ASD and timely enrollment in services.
How can this information be useful?

AR-ADDM’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 future ASD research; and
  • Inform policies promoting improved outcomes in health care and education for individuals with ASD.

Stakeholders in Arkansas might consider different ways to increase awareness of ASD among black and Hispanic families and identify and address barriers to evaluation and diagnosis in order to decrease the age at which all children are evaluated and diagnosed.

How and where was this information collected?

AR-ADDM uses a record review method. Data were collected and analyzed from the health and special education records of children who were 8 years old and living in any of the 75 counties in Arkansas in 2016.

8-year-old children in tracking area: 40,225

  • 64% white
  • 20% black
  • 13% Hispanic
  • 2% Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 1% other
What is AR-ADDM doing currently?

AR-ADDM collaborates with the Arkansas Department of Education, Arkansas Department of Health, and investigators from the University of Arkansas for Medical Services (UAMS) to continue tracking the percentage and characteristics of children with ASD. AR-ADDM recently added 4-year-olds and 16-year-olds to the tracking of 8-year-olds. In addition, AR-ADDM partners with UAMS’ Department of Pediatrics and Arkansas Children’s Hospital to provide training to physicians and staff using AR-ADDM’s individualized presentations on the number and characteristics of children with ASD. AR-ADDM also cosponsors educational events for families and educators and collaborates on developmental disabilities awareness events. Visit https://pediatrics.uams.edu/ar-addmexternal icon for more information.

Get Resources and Connect Families to Services and Support in Arkansas

“The work of AR-ADDM has been very valuable to me in my role as a local special education director for three rural school districts in Van Buren County. Prevalence of autism in schools has skyrocketed, growing so quickly that it makes it difficult to keep adequate resources and supports in place for students, staff members, and families. When I examine our data, I find that autism is no longer a low incidence disability in my three districts, and it requires that I be diligent in supporting staff with resources and supports. The work of AR-ADDM has allowed us to look at real data that have meaning around the prevalence of autism in our state. I have used the data over the years when I do presentations locally and at the state level. I hope that work continues- it is so very important!”

– DEB SWINK , Special Education Director Clinton, Shirley, and South Side School Districts

First Connections
Services for children under the age of 3 years with developmental delays or disabilities
1-800-643-8258
https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dds/firstconnectionsweb/#fc-homeexternal icon
https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/ddds/autismexternal icon

Department of Education’s Special Education Unit
Special education services for school-aged children with disabilities
1-800-482-8437
www.arkansased.gov/divisions/learning-services/special-education

Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center
Support, education, and advocacy for families of individuals with ASD
1-800-342-2923
aaroc.orgexternal icon

Dennis Development Center (DDC) and Schmieding Development Center (SDC)
Diagnostic multidisciplinary team evaluations for children presenting with developmental and behavioral concerns. Provides comprehensive developmental assessments of children from birth to 21 years of age
DDC 501-364-1830
SDC 479-750-0125
https://pediatrics.uams.edu/clinical-programs-affiliates/external icon

CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early.
Alan Mease, Arkansas’ Act Early Ambassador
Alan.Mease@arkansas.gov
www.cdc.gov/actearly

Project Connect Resource Guide
Arkansas resources for families and professionals on child development and what to do if there is a concern
www.adcpti.org/Assets/projectconnect_ resourceguide_smallsize.pdfpdf iconexternal icon

Spotting Autism in Early Child Care Settings
Training for childcare providers on identifying children at risk for being diagnosed with autism
www.healthychildcareAR.orgexternal icon

Community-Based Autism Liaison and Treatment (CoBALT) Project
Comprehensive diagnostic assessments, early intervention services, and family support
https://cobaltar.org/external icon

Connect with AR ADDM
Allison Hudson
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
1 Children’s Way, Slot 512-4 Little Rock, AR 72202
501-364-3612
aehudson@uams.edu
https://pediatrics.uams.edu/ar-addmexternal icon