Friday, December 18, 2009

Good Morning, America

The Good Morning, America show reported today on the 1 in 100 statistic for children diagnosed with some form of autism that was just confirmed by the National Institute of Health. The diagnosis is four times as frequent in boys as it is in girls. Astounding. It’s not much, but the GMA guest reported that $60 million has been allocated for research into the cause (unknown) and treatment of disorders on the spectrum.

They reiterated that early intervention is critical for these children. Although my son was not diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder until he was nine years old, he had been receiving public services for recognized developmental delays since the age of two. Looking back, I don’t think he would have been diagnosed as on the spectrum at that age (and, technically, NLD may not be anyway); but an autism spectrum diagnosis can often be confirmed as early as eighteen months of age. Pediatricians are on the lookout for the toddler’s social interaction, language development and movements (especially repetitive behaviors, movements or tics).

An encouraging statistic is that most states offer preschool services (as did the state we were living in when our son was a toddler). On the minus side, only ten states require insurance companies to cover services for children diagnosed with autism. Outside services, which can cost up to $50,000 a year, are critical in helping the child overcome the challenges that such a diagnosis can present. Preschool and classroom services are great, but the more frequently the child receives the different therapies (speech, social, occupational), the better the outcome later in life.

If you have a diagnosis, or suspect autism or a social communication problem, ask for help.

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