FREE DEVELOPMENTAL SCREENINGS FOR AUTISM
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children be screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 18 and 24 months.
Routine screening for Autism is critical because of the prevalence and fact that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who receive an early and intensive treatment have the best possible outcome. Despite this, most children are never screened for Autism. However, when a parent or guardian has concerns, or a child is at risk for atypical development, an Autism screening is imperative.
Autism Spectrum Disorder can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are either transitioning from an early intervention program or have already been placed in a self-contained classroom. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need at a critical time in brain development- ages 0-3.
A PARENT’S VALUE
Parents and caregivers are in the position of knowing the child much better than any professional. Although pediatricians may screen for developmental delays, it does not mean that they have screened for ASD. Parents should follow their instincts. It is difficult for any doctor to really know a child in a 10-15 minute doctor’s visit. Parents are the ones who spend the most time, so parents should not hesitate to bring up any concerns. If the doctor does not seem to have a solid understanding of your concern, get a second opinion. The worst situation to be in is a “wait and see” one. Timely intervention is critical to your child’s development.
A PROFESSIONAL’S VIEW
Our screening specialist has 20 years of experience specializing in Early Childhood and Autism Spectrum Disorders. The specialist will help identify possible delays in language and social skills, including engagement with others, play skills, and the scope of your child’s repetitive behaviors or limited, obsessive interests. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem that needs to be identified so treatment is not delayed any further.
During the screening the specialist will ask you questions and then spend some time observing your child during free play and also while you are interacting with your child. An assessment tool will also be used to score your child’s performance during the evaluation.
An autism screening cannot provide a diagnosis, but it can help you and your doctor learn whether your child is showing delays or deficits in the two core areas related to ASD: (1) social communication and social interaction; and (2) restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
If your child’s screening evaluation results in your child being “AT RISK” for Autism Spectrum Disorder, you will be supported in each step you take. Most important is to immediately schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to obtain an official diagnosis, should one be warranted.