The goal of the ADDM Network is to provide comparable, population-based estimates of ASD and other developmental disabilities across sites over time. The combined data from the various ADDM sites can help inform us about:

  • Characteristics of children with ASD
  • Whether ASD is more common in some groups of children than others and if those differences are changing over time.
  • The impact of ASD and related conditions upon children, families, and communities in the United States.


  • Estimate the prevalence of 8-year-olds with ASD and 8-year-olds with intellectual disabilities in Hennepin and Ramsey 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.
  • Share findings of the project data to improve services for children with ASD and intellectual disabilities in their communities.

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 2013, showed notable differences in ASD prevalence and co-occurring conditions, such as intellectual disability, between children from different ethnic groups. This new project looks more closely at some of those differences among children in the broader two county area.

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

MN-ADDM collaborates with a wide variety of community ASD organizations and several Minnesota state agencies including the Minnesota Departments of Education (MDE),  Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), and Minnesota Department of Health. MN-ADDM uses an active community advisory board consisting of parents/family members, advocates, researchers, service providers, administrators, faith leaders, educators, clinicians, and community organizers to inform, guide and support the work of MN-ADDM. 

MN-ADDM project engages awareness, educational and outreach activities through a variety of platforms including local and national conferences, community sponsored events, television, and online webinars.

MN-ADDM partnered with the CDC funded "Learn the Signs. Act Early" (LTSAE) project and Help Me Grow MN to conduct outreach and educational activities on early developmental screening and early identification in under-identified communities such as Latino, Hmong, and Somali communities. MN-ADDM together with MN Act Early has translated and customized ASD and LTSAE outreach materials and resources for our local diverse communities. 

A short film series was developed in partnership with MN Department of Human Services to raise awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for local diverse communities (e.g. Somali, Hispanic, Hmong, African American, and American Indian). They are designed to help families access evaluation resources, early intervention services, and ASD supports.

Project Staff

Photo of Amy Hewitt

Amy S. Hewitt, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

Photo of Amy Esler

Amy Esler, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator/Clinician Reviewer

Photo of Jennifer Hall-Lande

Jennifer Hall-Lande, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator/Clinician Reviewer

Photo of Libby Hallas-Muchow

Libby Hallas-Muchow, M.S.
Project Coordinator

Photo of Anab Gulaid

Anab Gulaid, M.P.A.
Communications/Community Engagement

Photo of Jenny Poynter

Jenny Poynter, Ph.D.

photo of Heidi Eschenbacher

Heidi Eschenbacher, Ph.D.

Photo of Courtney Higginbotham

Courtney Higginbotham, M.P.H.

Community Advisory Council

Alfred Sesay, Parent

Anthony Gonzalez, Self-advocate

Asli Ashkir, Minnesota Department of Health

St. David's Center for Child & Family Development

Barb Dalbec, Minnesota Department of Health

Charity Tatah Mentan, Community/Researcher

Duchess Harris, Parent/Macalester College

Elia Dimayuga-Bruggeman, Minnesota Department of Education

Ellie Wilson, Autism Society of Minnesota

Eric Kloos, Minnesota Department of Education

Gail Ghere, St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS)

Hassan Samantar, PACER

Jackie Kelly, St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS)

Nancy Gonzalez, Parent

Joy Carpenter, Parent

Julie Kenney, IPSII Inc

Mai Khou Yang, Community member/Social Worker

Mariam Egal, Minnesota Department of Human Services 

Nyagatare Valens, Parent

Paris Gatlin, The Arc Minnesota

Pat Pulice, Fraser

Rochelle Cox, Minneapolis Public Schools

Samuel Woldu, Community member/Psychotherapist

Sheik Abdirahman Mohamed, Islamic Civic Society of American & Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque

Yusuf Samatar, Parent/Community member

Additional Staff

Susan Madden, UMN, Lead Abstractor
Ryan Ferguson, UMN, Abstractor
John Westerman, UMN, Web Developer
Laura Billstein, Abstractor
Emma Jackson, Abstractor

Key Terms

Autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that is caused by differences in how the brain functions. People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in different ways. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and usually last throughout a person’s life (1). ASD includes former diagnoses of autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger disorder. These diagnoses were collapsed into the single category of ASD in 2013.

Confidence interval

A confidence interval gives an estimated range of values which is likely to include the information (e.g., prevalence) that we want to know about.  The interval is a range of values that you can have confidence contains the true value in the population. There are different levels of confidence intervals; the most common is 95%. With a 95% confidence interval, we say that we are 95% confident that the value in our population will be included in our interval.  5% of the time, it will not.  So, we could say, “We are 95% confident that the prevalence of ASD in 8-year-olds in our surveillance area was between 21 and 27 per 1,000 children in 2014. Larger samples typically have smaller confidence intervals.  Smaller samples usually have bigger confidence intervals.

Developmental delay

A developmental delay is a persistent delay experienced by a child in reaching one or more developmental milestones—how children grow, move, communicate, interact, learn, and play.

Intellectual disability

Intellectual disability means that a person has difficulty learning at an expected level and functioning in daily life. In this report, intellectual disability is measured by intellectual quotient (IQ) test scores of less than or equal to 70.

IQ Test

A standardized psychological test or tool used to measure an individual's overall “intelligence quotient” (IQ). These tests often measureproblem-solvingg skills across a variety of domains.


Prevalence is a scientific term that describes the number of people with a disease or condition among a defined group at a specific period in time. Prevalence is usually expressed as a percentage or proportion of the defined group. For this project, we counted the number of 8-year-olds in 2014 who were identified with ASD and then divided that number by the total number of 8-year-olds in our surveillance area during 2014.

Statistical significance

The likelihood that a relationship between two or more variables is caused by something besides random chance.