A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Georgia

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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.

map of Georgia
1 in 46

Or 2.2% of 8-year-old children were identified with ASD by MADDSP in 2018

Bar chart showing prevalence of ASD in GA

This percentage is about the same as the average percentage identified with ASD (2.3%) in all communities in the United States where CDC tracked ASD among 8-year-olds in 2018.

Among 8-year-olds

White and Black children were 2x as likely to be identified with ASD as Hispanic children. Black children were 1.4x as likely to be identified as Asian or Pacific Islander children

Chart showing Black children were 1.4x as likely to be identified as Asian or Pacific Islander children

Values indicate prevalence per 1,000 children. There were no significant differences in identification between other races or ethnicities.

Among 4-year-olds

Black children were 1.7x as likely to be identified with ASD as Hispanic children. White children were 0.7x as likely as Black children and Hispanic children were 0.6x as likely as Asian or Pacific Islander to be identified with ASD

charts - Among 4-year-olds ASD data - Georgia

Values indicate prevalence per 1,000 children.

By 3 years of age

About 49% of children identified with ASD received a comprehensive developmental evaluation

chart - About 49% of children identified with ASD received a comprehensive developmental evaluation

This is a 32% increase from 2016.

8-year-old children with both ASD and ID were identified earlier than children with ASD who did not have ID

Children who were born in 2014 (1.0%) were 1.4x as likely to receive an ASD diagnosis or ASD special education classification by 48 months of age compared to children born in 2010 (0.7%).

georgia - Children who were born in 2014 (1.0%) were 1.4x as likely to receive an ASD diagnosis or ASD special education classification by 48 months of age compared to children born in 2010 (0.7%).

Cumulative incidence of ASD identified per 1000 children.

IQ data were available for 69%

Of 8-year-old children identified with ASD

IQ data for Georgia showing of Children identified with ASD by MADDSP 38.5% had Intellectual Disability

What are the key take-away messages?
  • More children are being diagnosed by age 4 years compared to age 8 years than in previous study years.
  • While the proportion of Black and White children identified with ASD is about the same, Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander children are less likely to be identified with ASD. This may reflect cultural and/or socioeconomic differences, such as language barriers, and delayed or lack of access to services.
How can this information be useful?

MADDSP’s latest findings can be used to:

  • Promote early identification of ASD.
  • for ASD services and training.
  • Guide future ASD research.
  • Inform policies promoting improved outcomes in health care and education for individuals with ASD.

Partners in Georgia might consider different ways to:

  • Lower the age of first evaluation by community providers.
  • Increase awareness of ASD among Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander families.
  • Identify and address barriers 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 4 years old and 8 years old and living in either DeKalb or Gwinnett county in Georgia in 2018.

8-year-old children in tracking area: 23,580

  • 26% non-Hispanic White
  • 40% non-Hispanic Black
  • 25% Hispanic
  • 9% Asian or Pacific Islander
  • <1% American Indian or Alaska Native

4-year-old children in tracking area: 23,040

  • 27% non-Hispanic White
  • 40% non-Hispanic Black
  • 23% Hispanic
  • 9% Asian or Pacific Islander
  • <1% American Indian or Alaska Native

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

What else does MADDSP do besides provide estimates of ASD?

MADDSP is an intramural program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MADDSP collaborates with health and education systems that serve children with developmental disabilities and their families to understand the number and characteristics of 4- and 8-year-olds with ASD and intellectual disability in select areas of Georgia. MADDSP provides tailored data reports and presentations to data providers and community organizations upon request.

“MADDSP and ADDM data have again demonstrated that an evidence based surveillance system can provide meaningful data for monitoring the prevalence of ASD and has really shaped statewide priorities in Georgia to lower the age of diagnosis, increase the capacity to diagnose and serve these individuals, and to reduce the racial/ethnic disparities in diagnosis and services. These data were especially important to help pass legislation to
mandate insurance coverage and are often used to increase national priorities for how to best support individuals with ASD at home, in schools, and in the community.”

– MICHAEL J. MORRIER PhD, BCBA-D
Associate Professor Emory University School of Medicine

ATLANTA AUTISM CONSORTIUM
Support for collaboration among families, researchers, clinicians, educators, and advocates
https://atlautism.orgexternal icon

THE ARC AUTISM NOW
Resources and information on community-based programs
https://autismnow.orgexternal icon

AUTISM SPEAKS
Information and resources for families
www.autismspeaks.org

BABIES CAN’T WAIT
Services for children under the age of
3 years with developmental delays or
disabilities
www.dph.georgia.gov/babies-cantwait

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’S SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES AND SUPPORTS
Special education services for school aged children with disabilities
404-656-3963
www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Special-EducationServices/Pages/default.aspx

PARENT TO PARENT OF GEORGIA
Support for parents of children with special needs
1-800-229-2038
p2pga.org

CDC’S LEARN THE SIGNS.
ACT EARLY.
Bridget Ratajczak
GA Act Early Ambassador
www.cdc.gov/ActEarly

CONNECT WITH MADDSP
addm@cdc.gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities