Autism Prevalence – What is it, really?

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The University of Minnesota recently released a report of research they conducted that was funded by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National institutes of health (NIH) and Autism Speaks. In this project, they determined prevalence of ASD and age of diagnosis of children in Minneapolis, specifically looking to see if this was significantly different for children of Somali descent compared to other children. Although the fact that this research was conducted only in Minneapolis and therefore cannot be assumed to hold for all locations, it presents information that will be of interest to providers, parents, and communities.

Some key findings were that the prevalence of ASD among Somali children ages 7-9 in Minneapolis was 1 in 32 children. This was very close to the prevalence in white children of 1 in 36, and significantly different from the 1 in 62 for black children and 1 in 80 for Hispanic children. And, due to this variance, the overall prevalence of ASD in this study was found to be 1 in 48. This compares with the CDC’s parent response prevalence rate of 1 in 50 released last year, and contrasts with the official CDC prevalence rate of 1 in 88 children. Also included in this report is the age of diagnosis of ASD.

The community report (which can be read at rtc.umn.edu) explains in clear language how prevalence of ASD is determined as well as the challenges faced by those conducting such research, and suggests how prevalence data can be useful to families, providers, policymakers and researchers.

Russell J. Bonanno, M.Ed.

TAP Program Manager

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