The Centers for Disease Control’s Developmental Disabilities Branch released new data indicating a surge in the diagnosis of autism to 1 in 68 children. This appears to be the result of increased prevalence as well as increased identification. The new awareness among physicians and other healthcare professionals as well as among parents and teachers is getting children identified earlier. Many children who would have previously gone unidentified are less likely to slip through the cracks.
“The most important thing for parents to do is to act early when there is a concern about a child’s development,” said Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of CDC’s Developmental Disabilities Branch. “If you have a concern about how your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, take action. Don’t wait.”
Most children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder after the age of 4. The truth is our diagnostic tools and ability to identify symptoms get better with older children, but we can identify ASD in many cases very early. There are some symptoms that become obvious as early as 6 months. Our objective tests for ASD improve greatly at the landmark ages of: 6, 14, and 18. Prior to age 6, clinicians with more experience and observational tools are able to identify very accurately.
The best take away from this new information is to have your child tested and retested if concerns continue.