The earlier that autism is diagnosed and treated in children, the better outcomes they will experience for future relationships and careers. However, most children aren't detected and diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) until around age four, with children from economically disadvantaged or minority backgrounds detected and diagnosed up to two years later, on average. For all autistic children to get the care they need, researchers as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children be universally screened for ASD at 18 months and again at 24 months, among other strategies. A review of research and public health ramifications was published in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) journal published in partnership with SAGE Publishing.
In order to successfully diagnose all children who are at risk of ASD, researchers Fein et al. recommend using a combination of strategies, such as:
The researchers also recommend that government policy not continue funding early intervention using local property taxes, which results in children from wealthy states and communities receiving more access to treatment than children in poorer areas.
They concluded: "The cost of effective early intervention is significant; however, the impact of failing to provide this intervention in long-term costs and unrealized human potential is much greater."
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