Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause challenges in childhood development, behavior, communication, and social skills. Like other developmental disabilities, Autism exists on a spectrum meaning each child with ASD will have unique strengths and unique challenges. Autism can typically be identified quite early in life – around 18 months – and lasts throughout adulthood. Oftentimes, developmental skills, and communication/social barriers, can be improved through services like ABA Therapy and Precision Teaching. Autism can be diagnosed by specialists in Developmental or Behavioral Pediatrics as well as Child Psychiatry, Psychology or Neurology.
Autism can be diagnosed by a specialist in Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrics, Speech Pathology, or Child Psychology around 18 months of age. Diagnosis is made through a formal evaluation but, signs of ASD typically present earlier. Some common signs include:
The latest research indicates that ASD occurs in 1 out of every 44 children born in the US. In Iowa, the latest data indicates that the rate of Autism in the state is between 3-3.90%. That’s about twice the national average.
Yes – ASD rates are increasing. From 2001 to 2015, the number of Autism diagnoses (ages 3-21) has increased by over 400%. The most likely reasons for the increase in diagnoses include:
There is no medical test (i.e. blood draw or x-ray) that can be used to detect Autism, it can only be diagnosed after a careful review of a child’s development. Most often, this assessment is provided by a pediatric behavioral specialist, developmental specialist, or neurologist.
Current research does support the idea that Autism is about 4x more common in boys than in girls. However, ASD can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, and socioeconomic status. It’s important to note that rates of Autism often appear lower in communities with limited access to healthcare services.
As soon as possible! If your child has been diagnosed with ASD or, if you and your pediatrician believe it’s likely your child will be diagnosed, start exploring treatment options as soon as possible. Research shows that early intervention is the best way to support healthy development and reduce challenges.
A reliable Autism diagnosis can be provided at around 18 months of age. If you notice signs of Autism earlier than this, your pediatrician will likely have you monitor any behaviors, delays, or regressions in development until your child is old enough for a formal assessment. The earlier a child can get diagnosed and start therapy, the better. The most recent research shows that early-intervention treatment (i.e. starting therapy before school age) is one of the best ways to help your child build their skill set.