A Snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder in North Carolina

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The North Carolina Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (NC-ADDM) Project helps determine the number of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the central part of North Carolina, the characteristics of those children, and the age at which they are first evaluated and diagnosed.

North Caroline site tracking area

1 in 39

or 2.5% of 8-year-old children in central North Carolina were identified with ASD by the NCADDM Project in 2016

North Carolina Prevelance

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

Black children were 1.4x

More likely to be identified with ASD than Hispanic children

North Carolina-Race

Values indicate prevalence per 1,000 children. No significant differences in ASD prevalence were found between Hispanic and white children or white and black children.

62% of children

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

North Carolina CDE

Boys were 4.7x

More likely to be identified with ASD than girls

North Carolina Boys vs Girls

57% of children

Identified with ASD had a documented ASD diagnosis

North Carolina Documented Diagnosis

By 38 months
half of children identified with ASD were diagnosed
IQ data available for 91%

Of children identified with ASD by the NC-ADDM Project

IQ North Carolina

What are the key take-away messages?

  • Many children with ASD need services and support, now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.
  • Hispanic children are less likely to be identified with ASD than white or black children in North Carolina. This may reflect cultural or socioeconomic factors that impact access to services compared to other groups in North Carolina.
  • Among the areas where CDC tracks ASD across the United States, central North Carolina had the highest percentage of children identified with ASD who had received a comprehensive developmental evaluation by age 3 years. This is good news, but there is still more to be done to ensure that all children are evaluated as soon as concerns about their development are identified.
  • Evaluating and diagnosing all children with ASD as early as possible can help them get connected to the services they need.

How can this information be useful?

The NC-ADDM Project’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 North Carolina might consider different ways to increase awareness of ASD among Hispanic families and identify and address barriers to evaluation and diagnosis in order to decrease the age at which Hispanic children are evaluated and diagnosed.

How and where was this information collected?

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 four counties in central North Carolina in 2016.

Tracking area
Alamance, Chatham, Orange, and Wake counties

8-year-old children in tracking area: 19,291

  • 55% white
  • 21% black
  • 17% Hispanic
  • 7% Asian or Pacific Islander

What else does NC-ADDM do besides tracking ASD among 8-year-olds?

The NC-ADDM Project collaborates with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and investigators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to track the number and characteristics of 4-year-olds and 8-year-olds with ASD and/or intellectual disability. The NC-ADDM Project works with the North Carolina Autism Alliance and other interdisciplinary partners to continually identify ways the data can help improve our understanding of the needs of families in North Carolina.


“Given the importance of early identification and intervention, as well as supports and services for children with autism spectrum disorders and their families, these data enable us to assess how we are doing as a state in identifying children.”

– Jill Singer
Early Intervention Branch Head
Division of Public Health
Early Intervention Branch
North Carolina Department of Health
and Human Services

Autism Society of North Carolina

The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program

Teacch Autism Program

Connect With NC-ADDM
Julie Daniels, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill