Limitations and Implications

This is the third time Minnesota data has been included in findings from the ADDM Network. The findings in this report reflect a small number of children concentrated in a large metropolitan area. The higher prevalence estimate in Minnesota, compared to ADDM-wide estimates, is not unanticipated for a large metropolitan area.

In Minnesota, there are differences between the proportions of boys and girls identified with ASD, with more boys than girls. This is consistent with previous estimates. (Note: the ADDM project only collects data on males and females and does not include sexual orientation or gender identification information.)

In Minnesota, we identify ASD much later than when first concerns are reported. The median age of the first ASD diagnosis for 8-year-olds was 5 years and 3 months, which was the latest age across the ADDM Network. This lag is concerning due to the critical importance of early identification and intervention. Many states, including MN, have invested in early intervention to help children and families gain access to early intervention services. For example, Minnesota’s Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) Benefit provides early intensive intervention for people with ASD and related conditions. To learn more about the EIDBI benefit follow this link: 

We found varying prevalence rates across racial and ethnic groups in Minnesota. The small number of children in some of these groups makes it difficult to determine whether the rates of children with ASD truly are different across groups. Additionally, the confidence intervals around the prevalence estimates are large (e.g., 13.6-33.7 for Asian/Pacific Islander children), and this tells us we should use caution before drawing conclusions about any differences between groups. As the geographic area for MN-ADDM continues to grow and include more children, we will be better able to judge whether there are true differences in prevalence estimates. If differences are found, it will be important to focus on general health disparities that may influence these differences. 

We found that of the 8-year-old children who had IQ information in their records, 29% had an intellectual disability. Among 4-year-old children with IQ information, 57% had an intellectual disability. The higher rate of intellectual disability in the younger group is not unexpected, as children with ASD with developmental delays are often identified earlier than children with ASD without developmental delays.