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How Common is Autism?

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) reported that approximately 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This rate remains the same as in 2014, which is the first time it has not risen. However, with respect to older data, this new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than the previous estimate of 1 in 88 children reported in 2012. In the 1980s autism prevalence was reported as 1 in 10,000. In the nineties, prevalence was 1 in 2500 and later 1 in 1000.


Early Signs of Autism

Every child is different and every child develops at his or her own pace. However, there are specific developmental milestones that all children should be reaching by specific ages. If your child is not meeting milestones or you are concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait! Talk to your doctor.


Autism Diagnosis: Prep and Measures

If you’ve been noticing some early signs of autism in your child, and have brought your concerns to a physician, the next step will be a diagnostic test for your child. This assessment will be done by your physician, but he or she may also refer you to another doctor.  They will ask you for all of your child’s medical records. This includes:
  • any diagnostic and developmental assessments made through community resources
  • screening results
  • genetic testing
  • history of seizures, head trauma, etc.
  • information about your child’s intervention history (i.e., early intervention, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy)
  • questions and concerns for the doctor


Treatment Options

Scientists agree that the earlier in life a child receives early intervention services the better the child’s prognosis. All children with autism can benefit from early intervention, and some may gain enough skills to be able to attend mainstream school. Research tells us that early intervention in an appropriate educational setting for at least two years prior to the start of school can result in significant improvements for many young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. As soon as autism is diagnosed, early intervention instruction should begin. Effective programs focus on developing communication, social, and cognitive skills.


Beware of Non-Evidence-Based Treatments

All parents want their children to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, as parents of children with autism strive to help their children they can fall victim to duplicitous claims that encourage them to try unsafe, expensive and ineffective non-evidence-based treatments. Before beginning any treatment, parents should question whether there is a coherent scientific rationale behind it, and think critically about its associated risks and benefits. They should also ask their healthcare practitioner whether the treatment has been proven effective and safe in objective scientific studies, and whether those studies have been published in well-established, highly reputable, peer-reviewed medical journals.

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