A Deeper Dive

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How was this information collected?

The ADDM Network uses a systematic record review method. Specifically, the information reported by the Network is based on the analysis of data collected from the health and special education records (if available) of 8-year-old children who lived in one of 11 different areas throughout the United States in 2016.

Where was this information collected? Which children does it include?

  • Tracking area: specific areas of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin (see state pages for more information)
  • Population in tracking area: 275,419 children 8 years of age
    • 51.2% white
    • 21.2% black
    • 21.4% Hispanic
    • 5.5% Asian or Pacific Islander
    • <1% American Indian or Alaska Native

What is the key take-away message?

There continue to be many children living with ASD who need services and support, both now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood. Efforts to ensure that all children with ASD are evaluated and diagnosed as early as possible can help them be connected to the services they need.

Mom talking to smiling boy

Why was the percentage of children identified with ASD higher in some areas but not in others?

Currently, research does not show that living in certain communities puts children at greater risk for developing ASD. These geographic differences could be related to how the ADDM Network identifies children—for example, access to health records alone versus both health and special education records. It could also be due to changes in how children are identified and served in their local communities—for example, variations across communities in insurance coverage for ASD services. Continuing to track ASD over time will help the ADDM Network monitor future changes.

Why does the ADDM ASD prevalence estimate differ from other ASD prevalence estimates?

Estimates from the ADDM Network, the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) cannot be directly compared because they use different methods to collect their information and look at different age groups. NSCH and NHIS, based on national surveys of parental experiences, can provide insight into how many children have been diagnosed with ASD and other developmental disabilities. The ADDM Network further enriches our understanding of ASD by working with communities across the United States to collect information on specific characteristics of children with ASD and track changes over time in those communities and within groups with similar characteristics.