Increased testing for autism in Utah is impacting autism rates

Apr 4, 2023, 4:50 PM | Updated: 4:51 pm

Some of the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that autism r...

FILE: Daniele Brown works with her son, Daniel Brown, who is autistic, at their home in Highland, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The Brown family participated in a Brigham Young University autism study to help parents better their autistic children. (Nate Edwards, BYU)

(Nate Edwards, BYU)

SALT LAKE CITY — Some of the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that autism rates are growing among Utah children. But, there’s a catch. The number is higher because more parents are having their children tested.

According to the CDC, the agency’s 2023 Community Report on Autism represents results from 11 communities that make up the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Utah is one of those communities. 

Three counties are represented in the Utah numbers. They are Salt Lake, Davis, and Tooele Counties.

The report is a self-described snapshot of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) among 4 and 8-year-olds in the 11 communities that make up the ADDM network.

The Utah takeaways

In Utah, one in 40 children who are 8 years of age, or 2.5% of Utah 8-year-olds in a three-county area, were identified with ASD in 2020 (the year for which the most current information is available.) This number is similar to the average percentage identified in the 10 other communities involved in the ADDM Network

The study also identified that one in 79 children who are 4 years of age (or 1.3%) had ASD in a three-county area of Utah in 2020.

The study authors found that kids that live in lower-income neighborhoods were more often identified as having ASD than were kids in higher-income neighborhoods.

And researchers also found that Utah has made improvements in the number of kids receiving ASD testing by age 48 months. 

Getting that diagnosis early is important for many reasons said Colin Kingsbury with the Autism Council of Utah.

“If you can get them in to be identified, evaluated, and diagnosed earlier, there’s so many more services that are available,” Kingsbury said.

What can be done with the information?

The CDC said that their information can be used in multiple ways, namely to promote new initiatives aimed at earlier identification of ASD and a blueprint for ASD services and trainings.

April is Autism Awareness Month and to help parents, the state provides information to help you through the evaluation process of your child, to show where you can go to receive an autism evaluation, and help in finding the services parents may need after a child is diagnosed with ASD.

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Increased testing for autism in Utah is impacting autism rates