Federal officials are moving forward with plans to track the experiences of teenagers with autism.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has selected 11 sites to be part of the next surveillance efforts through its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.

All of the sites will comb through records from 8-year-olds and 4-year-olds in their areas to determine how many qualify for an autism diagnosis.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Now, for the first time, researchers at four of the sites will look at 16-year-olds on the spectrum as well by factoring how adolescents first identified by the network as 8-year-olds in 2010 and 2012 have progressed.

“Follow-up of 16-year-olds is a new activity for the ADDM Network, and will help inform public health strategies to improve identification of and services for children with ASD,” the CDC said. “Tracking 16-year-old adolescents with ASD can also provide valuable information on transition planning in special education services and the planned trajectory for post-high school years.”

Data collected through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network is used to establish the government’s official autism prevalence estimate. The most recent report from the network, which was issued last spring, indicated that autism affects 1 in 59 kids.

For the new round of surveillance, the CDC said it will spend over $16 million to review records from 2018 and 2020. The results — including the network’s first information on teenagers — will likely be released in 2022 and 2024.

In addition to the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta, researchers at the University of Arkansas, the University of Utah and Johns Hopkins University will track kids at ages 4, 8 and 16 years.

Sites monitoring the prevalence of 4- and 8-year-old children will include the University of Arizona, the University of Wisconsin, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, Vanderbilt University and Washington University.

Read more stories like this one. Sign up for Disability Scoop's free email newsletter to get the latest developmental disability news sent straight to your inbox.