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CDC Pushes Efforts on Monitoring Autism in Communities

CDC Pushes Efforts on Monitoring Autism in Communities

The CDC plans to dive deeper into autism rates in some communities by asking researchers in ten communities to consider changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

So says Michelle Diament, a writer for DisabilityScoop.com. According to Diament, "as federal officials launch a new round of autism surveillance, they’re looking at more than prevalence alone, with plans to track diagnostic changes, younger kids and other disabilities."

"Researchers at 10 sites across the country will comb data from 2014 to determine up-to-date autism rates in their communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this month," the article said. "The effort is the latest in the agency’s routine monitoring. Every two years, the CDC works with researchers at sites across the country to examine autism incidence in a variety of American communities. The most recent data from the agency’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network — collected in 2010 — suggests that autism affects 1 in 68 children."

According to the article, "this time, however, officials say they’re looking to learn more from the numbers. For the first time, the CDC is asking researchers to consider the impact of changes to the diagnostic criteria for autism that took effect in 2013 with the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The agency is also taking steps to determine how communities are responding to figures showing an increasing number of children on the spectrum."

Meanwhile, the article said, "the surveillance efforts will look beyond just autism, with the CDC requiring all research sites to track at least one other condition like cerebral palsy or intellectual disability."

“We’re not expanding in terms of the number of sites, but in terms of depth,” said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the developmental disabilities branch at the CDC’s National Centers on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities in the article.

The ten sites selected for the 2014 data collection, the article said, "will scrutinize medical and educational records for 8-year-old children in their area to determine how many fall on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, six of the sites will also assess records for 4-year-old children."

“We’re really interested in what does this mean for communities? How are they using these numbers in terms of services and in terms of who’s getting the services?” Yeargin-Allsopp said.

According to the article, "eight sites will also look for cases of intellectual disability among children in their area while two sites will look at autism and cerebral palsy. The CDC already measures five conditions — autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, hearing loss and vision impairment — among children in the Atlanta area."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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