Children at a playground

What is MN-ADDM?

The Minnesota-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (MN-ADDM) is part of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network , a group of programs funded through the CDC to estimate the number of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities living in different areas of the United States. MN-ADDM monitors the prevalence of ASD and intellectual disability (ID) in parts of Anoka, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties.

The ADDM Network provides population-based prevalence estimates of ASD and other developmental disabilities across sites that can be compared 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 change over time, and
  • the impact of ASD and related conditions upon children, families, and communities in the United States.

This project does not examine what causes ASD. Our focus is on providing data and training that helps policymakers, educators, communities, providers, families, and individuals make informed decisions and support children with autism and their families.

This year, MN-ADDM estimated prevalence of ASD among 8-year-old and 4-year-old children. This information is based on the analysis of data collected from the health and educational records of children who were 4 and 8 years old in 2018. In addition to the race/ethnicity categories routinely studied by CDC, in MN we are interested in understanding prevalence for children in our Somali communities.

Goals of MN-ADDM

  • Estimate the prevalence of 4 and 8-year-olds with ASD and 4 and 8-year-olds with intellectual disabilities in Anoka, 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 work by the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) that estimated the prevalence of ASD among Somali and non-Somali children in Minneapolis. This 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, published in 2014, showed notable differences in the prevalence of co-occurring intellectual disability with ASD between children from different ethnic groups. This new project looks more closely at some of those differences among children in the broader three county area.

Does MN-ADDM examine the cause of autism?

No, this project does not examine what causes ASD. Our focus is on providing data and training that helps policymakers, educators, communities, providers, families, and individuals make informed decisions and support children with autism and their families.

What else does MN-ADDM do besides tracking ASD among 4 and 8-year-olds?

MN-ADDM collaborates with a wide variety of community ASD organizations and several Minnesota state agencies including the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). 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 in awareness, educational, and outreach activities through a variety of platforms including local and national conferences, community sponsored events, television, and online webinars.

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.