Since 2000, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) has been tracking important data about children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities across 11 U.S. locations. It recently expanded its reach to encompass 16 sites, which now includes UT-Austin and the city of Laredo, Texas. 

The ADDM is the only collaborative network to track the number and characteristics of children with ASD in multiple communities in the U.S.  Its goals are to: 

  1. Describe the population of children with ASD, 
  2. Compare how common ASD is in different areas of the country,
  3. Measure progress in early ASD identification, 
  4. Identify changes in ASD occurrence over time, and 
  5. Understand the impact of ASD and related conditions in U.S. communities.

Sandra Vanegas, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor and Director of Research at the Texas Center for Disability Studies, is the lead Principal Investigator of the UT-Austin site. Co-Principal Investigator Sandy Magaña, Ph.D., MSW, and Executive Director of the Texas Center for Disability Studies, believes that the addition of Texas to the list of ADDM sites will broaden insights and awareness of autism, particularly among Latinos. “We will be able to dive deeper into understanding how autism affects the Latino community as well. Students will be involved in disseminating findings and increasing awareness of developmental milestones and early signs of autism,” she says. Additionally, Deborah Parra-Medina, PhD, MPH of the Latino Research Institute will serve as the project’s epidemiologist.   

Ultimately, Dr. Magaña says that in tracking Texas data, they will develop reports over time that will shed light and add to the overall understanding of autism prevalence and experien