Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs) that have shown a striking increase in the reported prevalence over the past decade. The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network of the Center for Disease Control or CDC recently reported ASD rates for 8-year old children were 1 in 68 in 2010.
In 2015 the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration, which houses MN LEND, was named as one of two new ADDM Network sites for CDC, thus increasing opportunities for Fellows to participate in nationally significant research. The MN ADDM site focused on tracking all 8-year-olds with ASD and/or intellectual disabilities in Minnesota.
Per the CDC website, all 10 ADDM sites, including Minnesota, will contribute to improved understanding of ASD and other developmental disabilities, improve understanding of the implications of the change in ASD diagnostic criteria, build stronger relationships with community partners, increase dissemination of ADDM Network data, and improve reliability and efficiency of CDC’s ASD tracking system. Ultimately, these intended outcomes translate into improvements for children and their families.
We at the MN LEND Program place special emphasis on addressing the critical need for early detection of ASDs, given the mounting evidence that developmental processes are disrupted before 3 years of age, and that neuroplasticity and early developmental and behavioral intervention yields positive outcomes for these children, particularly when initiated before age 3.