A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Georgia
Findings from the Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP) 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.
Boys were more likely to be identified with ASD than girls. White and black children were more likely to be identified with ASD than Hispanic children. There were no significant differences between white and black children.
Georgia had intelligence quotient (IQ) data available for 85.7% of children identified with ASD. Of those children, 35.3% had intellectual disability.
Intellectual disability is defined as an IQ score of 70 or lower.
…about 86% had developmental concerns by 3 years of age.
…but only about 38% received a comprehensive developmental evaluation by 3 years of age.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the key take-away messages?
- Many children are living with ASD who need services and support, now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.
- The proportion of black and white children identified with ASD was about the same. However, Hispanic children were less likely to be identified with ASD than black or white children. This may reflect cultural and/or socioeconomic differences, such as language barriers and delayed or lack of access to services, as compared to white and black children in Georgia.
- Though developmental concerns were noted in many children’s records by 3 years of age, less than half of children identified with ASD received a comprehensive developmental evaluation by this same age. The lag between first concern and first developmental evaluation may affect when children are diagnosed and connected to the services they need.
- ASD can be diagnosed as early as 2 years of age; however, about half of children were not diagnosed with ASD by a community provider until after 4 years, 5 months of age.
- Efforts may be directed toward evaluating and diagnosing all children with ASD as early as possible so that they can be connected to the services they need.
How can this information be useful?
MADDSP’s latest findings can be used to
- Promote early identification of ASD,
- Plan for ASD services and training,
- Guide future ASD research, and
- Inform policies promoting improved outcomes in health care and education for individuals with ASD.
Stakeholders in Georgia might consider different ways to
- Lower the age of first evaluation by community providers.
- Increase awareness of ASD among Hispanic families, and identify and address barriers in order to decrease the age at which all children are evaluated and diagnosed.
How and where was this information collected?
MADDSP 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 8 years old and living in one of 5 counties in Georgia in 2014.
- Tracking area: Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties
- Children in tracking area: 51,161 8-year-olds
- 30 percent white
- 43 percent black
- 19 percent Hispanic
- 7 percent Asian or Pacific Islander
- Less than 1 percent American Indian or Alaska Native
What else does MADDSP do besides track ASD among 8-year-olds?
MADDSP is an intramural program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MADDSP collaborates with state agencies that serve children with developmental disabilities and their families to track the number and characteristics of 8-year-olds with ASD, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, intellectual disability, and/or vision impairment in select areas of Georgia. In addition, MADDSP partners with community organizations to host annual ASD awareness month events. Upon request, MADDSP offers workshops and trainings for local professionals and provides tailored data reports and presentations on the number and characteristics of children with developmental disabilities.
Get Resources and Connect Families to Services and Support in Georgia
“CDC’s ADDM Network provides key information on the number of children identified with ASD in multiple areas of the United States. The information obtained not only gives us a valuable estimate of the number of children in the population, but provides a way to evaluate important changes, such as the use of different diagnostic criteria.”
– Catherine Rice, PhD; Director, Emory Autism Center
Atlanta Autism Consortium
Support for collaboration among families, researchers, clinicians, educators, and advocates
Autism Society of Georgia
Information and support for families/providers
Information and resources for families
Babies Can’t Wait
Services for children under the age of 3 years with developmental delays or disabilities
Department of Education Special Education Services and Supports
Special education services for school-aged children with disabilities
Parent to Parent of Georgia
Support for parents of children with special needs
CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early.
Jennie Couture, Georgia’s Act Early Ambassador
Connect with MADDSP
Mary Patrick, MPH
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities