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Autism Often Not Diagnosed Until Age 5 or Older: U.S. Report
Date:5/24/2012

mmon service is social skills training, followed by speech or language therapy. Others include behavioral interventions and occupational therapy.

Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, said findings show the continued need to work toward identifying children earlier.

"Research tells us that children who start intervention earlier do better in the long run. This report found that the majority of children were 5 years or older when they were first identified. We can reliably diagnose autism by 24 months, so professionals need to do a better job, including screening all children at 18 and 24 months," Dawson said.

Only about 40 percent of school-aged children with an autism spectrum disorder receive behavioral intervention, even though research has shown such strategies can "significantly improve outcomes," she added.

Lack of insurance coverage and too few trained providers with expertise in behavioral interventions are reasons why some children aren't getting the services, Dawson noted. "It is critical that we address the barriers that are preventing children from receiving early intervention. Early intervention will result in better outcomes for children and provide substantial cost savings in the long run," Dawson said.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by problems with social interaction, communication and restricted interests and behaviors. That includes repetitive behaviors, such as arm-flapping or head-banging; having an obsessive interest in one topic; having a need to stick to a specific ritual or routine; and experiencing distress or agitation when that routine gets disrupted.

About one in 88 U.S. children has the disorder, according to the CDC.

Children with autism can also have co-existing conditions, such as anxiety, seizures, depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Experts say it's not always easy for parents and doctors to know whether sy
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Autism Often Not Diagnosed Until Age 5 or Older: U.S. Report
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