April is Autism Awareness Month, and for children with autism, health professionals say early intervention is key. But as WHCU’s Pete Blanchard reports, the average of diagnosis still comes several years after when children with autism should start getting help.
Doctors can usually see the first signs of autism between 18 and 24 months of age. But the average age of diagnosis for children with autism is after the age of 4.
“What that means then, is children aren’t getting help when they’re first showing signs of delayed language or peculiar behavioral patterns, and early diagnosis means early intervention.”
That’s Skott Freedman, speech language pathology professor at Ithaca College. He says the absence of early intervention for children with autism can lead to problems later on.
“What’s going to happen when a child reaches the age of 5 or 6 and starts school, is all of a sudden everything is very organized, you have a lot of set routines,” Freedman said. “You may have some transitions, and children on the autism spectrum have trouble with transitions. They rely on predictability, and change is not always welcome.”
Freedman says with autism on the rise, more health professionals are going to end up working with children with autism.
That’s why he’s started a lab that focuses on autism awareness among students in the health sciences.
It seems, for college students, early intervention is also key.