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1aimage.jpgAbout 1 in 32 Somali children, ages 7-9 in 2010, was identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Minneapolis, according to new data released today by the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). Somali and White children were about equally likely to be identified with ASD in Minneapolis. There is no statistically meaningful difference between the two estimates. Somali and White children were more likely to be identified with ASD than non-Somali Black and Hispanic children.

The Somali and White estimates from Minneapolis were higher than most other communities where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks autism spectrum disorder. The project estimates that 1 in 48 children reviewed in Minneapolis was identified as having ASD.

"We do not know why more Somali and White children were identified as having ASD than Black and Hispanic children in Minneapolis," said Amy Hewitt, director of the U of M Research and Training Center on Community Living in the Institute on Community Integration and primary investigator on the project. "This project was not designed to answer these questions, and future research is warranted."

Somali children with ASD were more likely to also have an intellectual disability (e.g., IQ lower than 70) than children with ASD in all other racial and ethnic groups in Minneapolis, according to the project findings.

"Future research can and should build upon these findings to better understand how ASD affects Somali and non-Somali children," said Hewitt. "This project was not designed to tell us why these differences exist, but its findings support the need for more research on why and how ASD affects Somali and non-Somali children and families differently."

This project also found that the age at first ASD diagnosis was around five years for Somali, White, Black, and Hispanic children.

"Children with ASD can be reliably diagnosed around 2 years of age," said Hewitt. "Further research must be done to understand why Minneapolis children with ASD, especially those who also have intellectual disability, are not getting diagnosed earlier."

To date, this is the largest project to look at the number and characteristics of Somali children with autism spectrum disorder in any U.S. community. However, these findings are limited to Minneapolis, and there are challenges in identifying ASD in small, ethnically diverse groups.

Amado_Angela_140w.jpgOn November 6-8, Angela Amado from the College's Institute on Community Integration spoke at the 48th Annual Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability Conference in Sydney on friendships and relationships with community members.

Pohl_Angie_140w.jpgOn August 2, 2013, Angie Pohl, Ph.D., research associate at the Institute on Community Integration, received the 2013 American Psychological Association (APA) Division 16 Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, "The Personal Readiness Evaluation for Postsecondary (PREP): A Development and Validation Study." She will present her research at the APA annual convention in August 2014 in Washington, D.C.

In April, staff from the College's Institute on Community Integration (ICI) gave numerous conference presentations, including:

  • Autism Society of Minnesota Annual Conference: Joe Timmons and Barb Kleist, "Residential Services for Individuals with Autism: Considerations for Minnesota"; Sharon MulĂ©, "Redefining Social Skills: The Move to the Adult World."
  • AERA Annual Conference: Sheryl Lazarus, Martha Thurlow and Yi-Chen Wu, "Longitudinal Analyses of Effects of Reclassification, Reporting Methods, and Analytical Techniques on Trends in Math Performance of Students with Disabilities"; Chris Bremer and Chris Opsal (with co-presenters), "The Effect of Federal Financial Aid on the Retention of Occupational and Non-Occupational Students at Four Community Colleges."
  • Netherlands: Angela Amado, eight presentations on community inclusion at one of the largest Dutch agencies for people with disabilities.

On March 28-29, the North Central Regional Resource Center (NCRRC) at the Institute on Community Integration hosted a national conference in Chicago on fiscal issues and related monitoring requirements contained in Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Delegations representing 21 States/territories and staff from other Regional Resource Centers attended. Kent Hamre and Maureen Hawes co-facilitated the event and the entire NCRRC staff helped host the conference and led sessions.

Hewitt_Amy_140pixels_w.jpgAmy Hewitt, director of the Research and Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration, is the April 2013 guest blogger on "Early Career Professionals," a blog hosted by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). In her April 9 post, titled "Just Some 'Food for Thought," she describes her career path in the field of disabilities research and advocacy, and shares some principles that have guided her work.

Nord_Derek.jpgThe American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA) selected Derek Nord of the Institute on Community Integration and his co-authors to receive the second place ARCA Research Award for their article, "Improving the Employment Outcomes of Job Seekers with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Training and Mentoring Intervention for Employment Consultants," which was published in the Journal of Rehabilitation, 78(2) in April 2012. The award will be presented on March 22, 2013 at the American Counseling Association Annual Conference. Nord's co-authors on the article were John Butterworth, Alberto Migliore, and Amy Gelb.

1_ICI.jpgYouth with disabilities, in particular, youth with emotional and behavioral disabilities (EBD) and learning disabilities (LD), are overrepresented in correctional facilities across the U.S. They also have a high rate of recidivism. In response to the need to support these youth to make a lasting transition out of the corrections system, the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) is partnering with area organizations and agencies on a new project, Making a Map: Finding My Way Back.

The project brings together ICI, Ramsey County Community Corrections, the non-profit organization Amicus, St. Paul Public Schools, Twin Cities postsecondary programs, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to carry out a comprehensive, evidence-based project supporting juvenile offenders with disabilities who are transitioning from Ramsey County juvenile justice facilities into secondary and postsecondary education, employment, and community programs. The four-year project, funded by a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, began January 1, 2013, and is directed by David R. Johnson and Jean Ness.

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Cliff Poetz of the College's Institute on Community Integration is one of several people being honored at a "Heroes of The Arc Minnesota Luncheon" on December 7. The Arc Minnesota promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. Cliff has been one of the most visible and vocal advocates for people with developmental disabilities in Minnesota for four decades. He has a long history of building the self-advocacy movement and serving The Arc locally, statewide, and nationally.

Stout_Karen_140w.jpgKaren Stout of the College's Institute on Community Integration (ICI) was a panelist for the program "High school dropouts: Should we let them go?" on The Daily Circuit, a news program aired by Minnesota Public Radio on November 5. She is a researcher at ICI and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Her work at ICI includes efficacy studies on the Check & Connect student engagement model, as well as its postsecondary applications. To hear the broadcast, visit

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