We all hear about the rise in autism. Many of us see more children with autism in our communities and classrooms. Most of us know someone in our family or circle of friends who has autism. Yet even with one in 68 8-year-olds affected–a 120% increase between 2000 and 2010–experts think actual rates are even higher due to under-diagnosis in minority communities, communities that have scarce resources, and among women and girls.
But what actually comprises a diagnosis? To be diagnosed, one must have deficits in communications, social skills and typical behavior. About 1/3 of children in a study by the CDC also had intellectual deficits, while the remainder demonstrated normal or above average intelligence.
Early diagnosis and therapy is key. While it is possible to diagnose autism at two and under, the average age of diagnosis is above four. Parents should voice their concerns to their doctor as early as possible. PresenceLearning offers a tool to help parents determine if their child’s development is normal, and also created a trail map to guide them through the process of obtaining and diagnosis and getting services such as speech and/or occupational therapy for their child. Autism expert Dr. Temple Grandin also has a number of practical suggestions for helping children with autism.