Diagnosing autism before age 3
Posted on April 8th, 2008 by Matt
Lisa Tate’s recent blog wondered about the myth that children can’t be diagnosed with autism before age three. In the past, doctors were hesitant to diagnose autism in children less than 2 years of age, mostly because of the relatively limited amount of research showing stability of such early diagnoses. Doctors were more likely to provide a Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) diagnosis. They’d watch the child for two years, see if the signs and symptoms were still there, then switch the diagnosis to autism.
But that’s changing. Last October, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended autism-specific screening at 18-month and 24-month doctor visits. Now more children are being diagnosed earlier on.
Here at Easter Seals Bay Area we’ve launched an Early Intervention Autism Program (EIAP) to specifically serve children 18 months through 3 years who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. EIAP’s mission statement:
To provide empirically based interventions to young children aged 18 months to 3 years with autism and similar disabilities that will facilitate successful inclusion into the least restrictive environment.
The EIAP will provide best practices in the field of early intervention autism treatment by developing an approach that enables clinicians and families to choose from and use multiple treatment methodologies. This will be unique to a market of parents who, until now, have not been given a choice in regard to finding a treatment that will work for their child and family.
There is still much we do not know in the field of autism treatment, but we do know that through programs like the EIAP we can make many important contributions to the lives of many children and families affected by autism. As a society, we cannot afford to deliver anything but the most effective interventions to children with autism. Through programs like the EIAP, Easter Seals Bay Area is providing help, hope and answers for families living with autism today.