The Importance of Early Detection of Autism
“After one year of intervention… children (aged 15-35 months) improved significantly in their verbal ability and the severity of autism symptoms was reduced.”
- Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 5 (2011) 345-350
Research shows that children who receive intensive early intervention services are more likely to have improved long-term outcomes, but the first step to intervention is diagnosis. In fact, some findings report that the impact of early interventions can be so great that in some cases an autistic child who received therapy as a baby will no longer exhibit signs of the disorder by age 3*. The results of this type of research provide hope and a path forward for those families that have children diagnosed with autism. However, it also brings to light a critical challenge facing the healthcare industry today. The majority of children simply aren’t diagnosed at an early enough age due to the complexity of ASD and the diagnostic process. Without a proper diagnosis, intervention is delayed at a time when therapy is most effective.
* Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9/14
Autism is complicated.
Getting help doesn’t have to be.
What are the steps in Autism diagnosis? Where should you start?
Diagnosing children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), particularly very young children who are first learning to communicate with the world around them can be challenging and complex. Parents may recognize that “something is wrong”, but are unable to identify the exact challenges or reasons for these behaviors. It is critical to implement early intervention. How do you recognize if your child has ASD in order to facilitate early diagnosis?
The most important thing you can do is to consult a professional if you think a child’s behavior is atypical.
Your pediatrician is a good place to start, but parents can also take some steps on their own including taking a pre-diagnostic test to determine if their child shows symptoms. One frequently used test is the M-CHAT; The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, which is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age for the risk factors of autism spectrum disorder. We encourage you to take advantage of this proven online tool, here.