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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Studying Prevalence in Minnesota

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on several bills including the reauthorization of the Autism CARES Act.  The testimony of Amy Hewitt, Ph.D. the Director of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota
The Autism CARES Act has helped to build a critical infrastructure to further advance our understanding of autism. The Autism CARES Act supports several important programs. It supports the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, a group of programs funded by the CDC to estimate the number of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities living in different areas of the United States. The CDC also established regional centers of excellence for ASD and other
developmental disabilities. They make up the Centers for Autism and Developmental
Disabilities Research and Epidemiology Network (CADDRE) that are working in part to
help identify factors that may put children at risk for ASD and other developmental
Findings from the Minnesota-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring  etwork (MN-ADDM) helps us to understand more about the number of children with  Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the characteristics of these children, and the age at which they are first evaluated and diagnosed.
This is the first time Minnesota has been a part of the ADDM network, and we are building our geographic area. Through this work, we know that 1 in 42 8-year-old children were identified with ASD in 2014. We now know that boys were 4.6 times more likely to be identified than girls and that there were no significant differences found in the percentage of white, black, and Hispanic children identified with ASD.
The findings in our report reflect a limited number of children concentrated in a large metropolitan area. Through the reauthorization of the Autism CARES Act, we are hopeful that we will be able to increase our scope geographically and include the lifespan of individuals with autism. This is particularly important because in addition to the  race/ethnicity categories routinely studied by CDC, in Minnesota we were interested in understanding prevalence for our local Hmong, Somali and other immigrant populations. Expansion of the geographic area in which we gather data is the only way we will be able to know with certainty if differences exist among these groups in Minnesota.