News Release

U of M selected as new site for CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network

To identify the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability among 8-year-old children in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, as part of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration (ICI) has been awarded a four-year, $450,000 annual grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We're honored to join a network that is increasing knowledge about the population of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities in this country, comparing how common ASD is in different areas of the country and understanding the impact of ASD and related conditions in U.S. communities,” said Dr. Amy Hewitt, a U of M researcher and project director at ICI. “This project will also help us better understand differences in prevalence among immigrant and diverse populations in Hennepin and Ramsey counties; knowing this can help Minnesota better plan for services."

This project builds on earlier ICI work that estimated the prevalence of ASD among Somali and non-Somali children in Minneapolis, which was the largest project to date to look at the number and characteristics of Somali children with ASD in any U.S. community. The findings of that project, released in 2014, showed notable differences in ASD prevalence and co-occurring conditions, such as intellectual disability, between children from different ethnic groups. This new project will look more closely at some of those differences among children in the broader two-county area.

The new project, titled Minnesota Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability Project, began earlier this month, and will use the CDC's ADDM Network methods to do the following:

  • Estimate the prevalence of 8-year-olds with ASD and 8-year-olds with intellectual disabilities in the two counties, and identify other characteristics of those children, such as ethnicity and co-occurring conditions.
  • Identify disparities in prevalence, characteristics and age of diagnosis across demographic groups, including two large racial/ethnic groups unique to the area – Somali and Hmong children.
  • Involve leaders in Somali, Hmong and other communities in design of the research, sharing of information and use of the project data to improve services for children with ASD and intellectual disabilities in their communities.

The findings of this work will be useful to policymakers, service providers and researchers in Minnesota and across the county by contributing to increased understanding of ASD and other developmental disabilities in different populations within the U.S., and providing data to help decrease disparities in ASD service delivery and age of diagnosis across groups.

The University of Minnesota joins Vanderbilt University as the two new sites for ADDM Network tracking. In all, 10 sites across the U.S. are part of the network. Learn more here.

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