On SAGE Insight: Researchers outline new policies for earlier detection of autism in children

Article title: Optimizing Outcome in Autism Spectrum Disorders

From Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences

The earlier that autism is diagnosed and treated in children, the better outcomes they will experience for future relationships and careers. However, most children aren’t detected and diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) until around age four, with children from economically disadvantaged or minority backgrounds detected and diagnosed up to two years later, on average. For all autistic children to get the care they need, researchers as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children be universally screened for ASD at 18 months and again at 24 months, among other strategies. Researchers concluded: “The cost of effective early intervention is significant; however, the impact of failing to provide this intervention in long-term costs and unrealized human potential is much greater.” Read more…

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are usually lifelong with wide ranging functional outcomes. Intensive behavioral intervention, implemented early, can improve outcome significantly. Some individuals, often with milder symptoms, if treated early, can attain social, cognitive, educational, and vocational functioning in the typical range. To qualify, children must be detected and diagnosed as early as possible. Without universal screening, many children from all backgrounds are not detected until past early childhood; children from economically disadvantaged and ethnic minority families are diagnosed and treated, on average, 2 years later than others. Primary care physician surveillance should incorporate parental concerns and be supplemented by universal ASD screening at 18 and 24 months. ASD screening in other community settings could detect risk in children who may not have primary or consistent medical care. Effective ASD diagnostic systems should encompass mildly affected children. Although universal screening can reduce inequities in identification, outcome disparities will persist while intervention funding remains local.

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Article details
Optimizing Outcome in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Deborah Fein, Marianne Barton, Thyde Dumont-Mathieu
Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
DOI: 10.1177/2372732216685098

     
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