The landscape of autism is dynamic, with new reports, statistics, and developments emerging each year, reshaping our understanding of care and awareness. However, disseminating this crucial data to the masses has been a challenge for many autism organizations. To address this, the Children’s Health Act of 2000 authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. This network collects and analyzes data on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, providing valuable insights into various communities across the United States.
ABA Centers of New Jersey understands the significance of these metrics for improving autism care. We’ve seen firsthand how fast these developments and statistics can change and how these changes can present challenges in the reliability and effectiveness of autism diagnoses for our country’s children. Here’s an analysis and breakdown of some key insights from the 2023 ADDM Community Report so you can stay up-to-date.
What is the Purpose of the ADDM Network?
The ADDM Network is a CDC program that collects analytical data on ASD and other developmental disorders to highlight the number and characteristics of children with these disorders throughout the U.S. Among the many goals of the ADDM Network, some of the primary objectives are to:
- Promote the importance and impact of autism awareness and related conditions in U.S. communities.
- Measure progress in early autism identification.
- Provide information on the characteristics of children with ASD, such as sex, race, age of evaluation, type of diagnosis, and presence of intellectual disability.
- Identify changes in autism occurrence in the short- and long-term.
- Indicate the population and diagnosis disparities of children with ASD.
The Importance of the ADDM Network
Early identification and intervention are crucial in autism care. By highlighting statistics that vary by region, ethnicity, and other factors, the ADDM Network enables us to provide the best possible treatment for individuals with autism. The testing, screening, and diagnosis process for autism can be challenging, so having access to reliable resources and key analytics is essential; this means that more families have the awareness they need to seek treatment, more access to said treatment, and familiarity when furthering their care programs.
Understanding the 2023 ADDM Community Report
The 2023 ADDM Community Report summarizes the findings from two CDC reports conducted in 2020. It analyzes data from health and special education records of 4- and 8-year-old children from 11 communities across the United States. These findings build upon the autism-related data reported in 2018, highlighted in the CDC’s 2021 Community Report on Autism.
Understanding the 2023 ADDM Community Report is knowing who the report targets and benefits. The ADDM Network’s findings benefit various professionals, organizations, and families involved in autism care. Families gain access to resources for testing and screening their children, while organizations can leverage the data to enhance their efforts in therapy and support. Additionally, service providers, education professionals, researchers, and policymakers can use the findings to plan support services, guide autism research, inform policies, and implement strategies for de-stigmatizing ASD on a national scale.
Key Insights from the 2023 ADDM Community Report
The 2023 ADDM Community Report comprises data from the 2020 calendar year. As such, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly influenced the 2023 ADDM Community Report’s findings. Despite setbacks in some areas, the report still offers valuable insights into the future of autism care. Here are the five key takeaways from the 2023 ADDM Community Report on autism and how they impact future autism care:
1. Early ASD Identification Changes – The report found that children born in 2016 were less likely to receive an ASD diagnosis or special education classification by the age of four compared to those born in 2012. The pandemic disrupted the diagnosis process, as families faced challenges accessing healthcare professionals and resources.
The quarantine is the main reason for this discrepancy. When families remained locked down in early 2020, they couldn’t take the necessary steps for a proper autism diagnosis. Without available pediatricians, psychiatrists, and other behavioral technicians who usually make these diagnoses, children who likely needed a test or screening did not have the opportunity to do so.
2. Race & Ethnicity Identification Percentages Swap – Differences in community prominence have historically influenced early identification and diagnosis rates of autism in children. The reasons for these disparities are because of many factors, such as lack of resources, education, stigma, and access to affordable health coverage.
An encouraging insight from the 2023 ADDM Community Report is that for the first, the percentage of 8-year-old children of Black, Hispanic, and Asian or Pacific Islander children identified with ASD ranked higher than White children of the same age. This trend shows major improvements in normalizing autism within previously underserved communities, and equitable identification of ASD now reaches these areas equally.
3. Identification Percentages Increase – The estimated percentage of 8-year-old children identified and diagnosed with ASD increased from 1 in 44 to 1 in 36. These statistics show an increase from previous reports by the ADDM Network and highlight a positive trend in autism diagnosis. This data shows that those who sought out the testing and screening process received a diagnosis at a higher level than in previous years.
4. Sex/Gender Disparities Continue – Reports find that boys still receive an autism diagnosis more often than girls. In 2020, boys were nearly four times as likely to receive an autism diagnosis than girls. While research continues to uncover why this disparity exists, a good takeaway from the data is that for the first time, the percentage of girls identified with ASD surpassed 1%.
5. Intellectual Correlation Grows – Among diagnosed 8-year-olds with IQ scores available, the report found that 37.9% also had an intellectual disability (ID). These children with an intellectual disability also received a diagnosis earlier than those without a disability, at a ratio of 43 months in children with an ID to 53 months in children without an ID.
ABA Centers of New Jersey Closely Monitors the ADDM Network Findings
At ABA Centers of New Jersey, we prioritize the importance of early identification and intervention when delivering reliable and effective ABA therapy services. The reports found in the 2023 ADDM Community Report help us better facilitate our services and outreach to families in need of autism care. Since ABA therapy works best for children at an early age, we continue to closely monitor the ADDM Network and any updates they have regarding autism and other developmental disabilities.
ABA therapy can help your child gain valuable developmental skills to live a fulfilling life. Contact us at (855) 640-7888 or through our website for questions regarding our ABA therapy services or to schedule a free consultation.