Facts About CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network is the only collaborative network to track the number and characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in multiple communities in the United States. CDC encourages partners to use information from ADDM in their local communities and across the country to move forward initiatives, policies, and research that help children and families living with ASD.
What Do ADDM Data Tell Us About ASD?
- About 1 in 54 or 1.85% of children have been identified with ASD in 2016, based on tracking in multiple areas of the United States. It is important to remember that this estimate is based on 8-year-old children living in 11 communities. It does not represent the entire population of children in the United States.
- ASD occurs among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. For the first time, ADDM found no overall difference in the number of black children identified with ASD compared to white children. However, the number of Hispanic children identified with ASD is still lower compared to white or black children.
- Boys are more than 4 times as likely to be identified with ASD than girls
- Overall, progress has been made toward the Healthy People 2020 goal of increasing the percentage of children with ASD who receive their first developmental evaluation by 36 months of age. Further, more children who were born in 2012 received an ASD diagnosis by 4 years of age compared to children born in 2008.
- The picture of ASD in communities continues to change. Almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability. This is higher than a decade ago, when one-third of children identified with ASD had average or above average intellectual ability.
Building the Public Health Infrastructure for ASD
The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network tracked ASD at sites within these states in 2016.
To understand the scope of ASD in the United States, the Children’s Health Act of 2000 authorized CDC to create ADDM to track the number and characteristics of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities using CDC’s Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program as a guide.
ADDM is the largest, ongoing ASD tracking system in the United States. There are several major advantages to using the ADDM method for tracking the number and characteristics of children with ASD.
- The ADDM method is population-based. This means that we study ASD and other developmental disabilities among thousands of children from diverse communities across the country.
- ADDM is able to look at how many children have ASD in multiple communities across the United States, which groups of children are more likely to be identified with ASD, and at what age they are likely to be diagnosed.
- The ADDM method is rigorous. We maintain quality and precision by collecting and reviewing information on all children the same way using the same criteria. These steps help ensure that ADDM Network results are accurate and unbiased.
“While typical children are scheduling play dates and extracurricular activities, our children’s lives are about therapies, day after day, year after year, usually seven days a week. People on the outside cannot grasp the necessary skills that our children require help with. My ultimate hope is that one day soon my children will live in a world where they will be accepted and appreciated, despite their differences. As long as I am here, I try to surround them with people who love and accept them as they navigate this world because autism never takes a day off.”
– Mary Elizabeth, parent of two children with ASD
CDC will continue tracking the changing number and characteristics of children with ASD, researching what puts children at risk for ASD, and promoting early identification. Early identification is the most powerful tool we have now for making a difference in the lives of children and families living with ASD.
Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network: www.cdc.gov/addm
Study to Explore Early Development: www.cdc.gov/seed
Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program: www.cdc.gov/actearly