Most Autism Not Diagnosed Until At Least 5-Years-Old
A new researcher study highlighted in the NCHS Data Brief have found that the average Autism diagnosis is not made until a child reaches at least the age of 5-years-old. The study specifically examined children from the ages of 6 to 17 with special needs and autism spectrum disorder.
According to the research more than half of school-aged children were at least 5-years-old when they were diagnosed with autism and less than 20% were diagnosed by age 2. Those numbers are despite the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that pediatricians test for the condition at 18 months of age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder which range from mild to severe forms.
Researcher Lisa J. Colpe, PhD, MPH, of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda tells WebMD:
“Our data indicate that many children with autism — the majority — are getting some sort of services such as speech or other individual-based interventions.”
Unfortunately those services typically work better when children are diagnosed early and receive the help they need. According to the study 12% of children with autism spectrum disorder did not receive recommended services and less than half received the kind of behavioral therapies that are believed to be most helpful.
Even when diagnoses many autistic children are not given additional help because of insurance issues and a lack of trained professionals.
In the meantime researchers are telling parents to be more involved and monitor their own children for signs of autism. If a parent believes there is reason for assessment they should then push for that checkup as soon as possible.