Facts About CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities
The 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 the ADDM Network 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 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
“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 autism spectrum disorder
- About 1 in 59 or 1.7% of children have been identified with ASD, 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.
- The picture of ASD in communities continues to change. Almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability; a decade ago, a third of children identified with ASD had average or above average intellectual ability.
- ASD occurs among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. While a higher percentage of white children have been identified with ASD compared to black children, and even more so compared to Hispanic children, these differences are narrowing.
- Boys are 4 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls.
- Most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2.
Building the Public Health Infrastructure for ASD
To understand the scope of ASD in the United States, the Children’s Health Act of 2000 authorized the CDC to create the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. CDC’s ADDM Network has funded 14 sites located in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. ADDM Network sites track the number and characteristics of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities using a technique modeled after CDC’s Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP). MADDSP represents the ADDM Network site located in Georgia.
- The ADDM Network is the largest, ongoing ASD tracking system in the United States. There are several major advantages to using the ADDM Network method for tracking the number and characteristics of children with ASD.
- The ADDM Network’s method is population-based, which means that we study ASD and other developmental disabilities among thousands of children from diverse communities across the country.
- The ADDM Network is able to look at not only how many children have ASD in multiple communities across the United States, but also which groups of children are more likely to be identified with ASD and at what age they are likely to be diagnosed.
- The ADDM Network 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.
CDC’s current ADDM Network sites have been funded to track ASD in children at 8 years of age. Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Wisconsin received additional funding to track ASD in children at 4 years of age.
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, the most powerful tool we have now for making a difference in the lives of children and families living with ASD.
“CDC’s autism prevalence estimates provide the Autism Society with critical information needed to advance our efforts. The Autism Society is committed to the ongoing provision of resources and support across the lifespan so that all people living with autism are able to maximize their quality of life. We are very fortunate to call CDC a partner of the Autism Society.”
Scott Badesch, President/CEO, Autism Society of America