Contact: Jerry Smith, Institute on Community Integration, smith495@umn.edu, 612-624-4336; Rachel Cain, University News Service, cain0160@umn.edu, 712-324-1241

As part of CDC report, UMN researchers find that 1 in 36 children were identified with autism in Anoka, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (12/02/2021) — A report by the Minnesota-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (MN-ADDM) at the University of Minnesota identified 1 in 36 (2.8%) 8-year-old children as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Minnesota. The report relied on 2018 data from the health and special education records of 10,081 children in parts of Anoka, Ramsey, and Hennepin counties. This is higher than the percentage of 1 in 44 identified with ASD that was reported in 2020. 

As part of an 11-state network funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring Network (ADDM) , the Minnesota-specific report shows the rate of ASD in Minnesota is higher than the overall ADDM rate. The CDC found that, on average, 1 in 44 (2.3%) children were identified as having ASD in communities where prevalence was tracked by the ADDM Network. This estimate is based on 8-year-old children living in parts of 11 states and does not represent the entire population of children in the United States.

“Minnesota’s higher prevalence rates may be reflective of the areas in which we collected data which are primarily urban with relatively good access to diagnostic services,” said Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande, co-principal investigator for the Minnesota project. ASD occurs among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Among 8-year-olds in Minnesota, Black children were almost twice as likely to be identified with ASD than Hispanic children and 1.3 more likely to be identified with ASD than white children. 

“These latest numbers tell us that we are identifying more children with autism in our communities,” said Hall-Lande. “It is important to remember that behind these numbers are real children and families. In the end, what matters is that children with autism and their families get the support and services they need to live healthy and successful lives.” 

Minnesota Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring also found that:

  • Minnesota identified the third highest prevalence of ASD in the ADDM Network among 8-year-olds.
  • The median age of first ASD diagnosis by a community provider in Minnesota was 5 years, 3 months. Minnesota had the latest median age of ASD diagnosis in the ADDM Network.
  • Consistent with previous ADDM Network estimates, 8-year-old boys were about four times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls of the same age.
  • Of the Minnesota 8-year-old children with ASD who had IQ tests in their records, 29% had an intellectual disability.

“Children with autism and intellectual disability often have high support needs, and families often report difficulties accessing services and community social opportunities as their children reach adolescence and adulthood,” said Dr. Amy Esler, co-principal investigator for the Minnesota project. “MN-ADDM data can help Minnesota to start planning for service needs as children become adults.” The MN-ADDM Network, which is part of the Institute on Community Integration in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, collaborates with a wide variety of community ASD organizations and several Minnesota state organizations, including the Minnesota Departments of Education, Human Services, and Health.

For more information on the MN-ADDM Network, visit addm.umn.edu. To access the CDC’s nationwide ADDM Network studies, visit cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/addm-community-report/index.html .

A webinar presenting findings from the Minnesota report can be viewed at z.umn.edu/mnaddm2018

About the Institute on Community Integration

The Institute on Community Integration is a federally designated University Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Through collaborative research, training, and outreach, the Institute improves policies and practices to ensure that all children, youth, and adults with disabilities are valued by and contribute to their communities of choice. To learn more, visit ici.umn.edu.