Source: GNM News Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, as of 2014, autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 68 children across the country. This new estimate is 30 percent higher than previous reports, which may be indicative of better measuring devices, more people coming forward or a greater prevalence of autism across the board.
Autism spectrum disorder or ASD, and autism are terms used interchangeably to describe a complex group of disorders that affect brain development. ASD may be characterized by difficulties in social interaction, repetitive behaviors, trouble with communication, and other conditions of varying degrees. The CDC points out that almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability.
Many children identified with ASD require special education services or some sort of therapy.While the widespread knowledge of ASD has made resources more available, not everyone knows where to turn when a child is first diagnosed with ASD.The following are some resources to get anyone started on his or her journey to information and assistance.
The first step begins with a diagnosis. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9,18 and 24 or 30 months and for ASD at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. However, less than half (44 percent) of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were 3 years old. Plus, the CDC’s report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network found most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though they can be diagnosed as early as age 2.
Should something seem awry during a routine developmental evaluation, a child’s pediatrician may refer parents to specialists who can do more in-depth evaluations to recognize signs of ASD. Pediatricians and specialists also can provide a wealth of information with regard to therapists and special education providers offering services for children with ASD. Many experts believe that early identification and therapies can be the most powerful tools people have to make a difference in the lives of children with autism.
Schools may also be a good resource for information on ASD. Parents can contact their local early intervention programs or school systems for free evaluations, after which parents may be put in touch with educators and therapists who can develop plans customized to children’s needs. Schools and parent forums also can be the ideal places to meet and confer with other parents of children withASD.With more contacts, the network of information increases exponentially. A variety of resources also can be found online.The National Autism Resource & Information Center has the Autism NOW Center Local Agencies directory available through their site, www.autismnow.org, or you can call the 1 800 4 AUTISM Helpline.