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Study Shows Many Doctors Stalled Autism Diagnoses

April 20, 2015

New analysis of a national 2011 survey showing that many healthcare providers were mistakenly dismissing parents’ early concerns that their children might be on the autism spectrum comes as no surprise to moms and dads of kids who went on to receive an ASD diagnosis.

The results, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, also found that parents of autistic children were more likely to have their first concerns dismissed than were parents of children with other developmental delays, including intellectual disability. Autism is now diagnosed at a rate of 1 in 68 children in the United States.

On average, parents reported first raising concerns about possible signs of autism when their children were around 2 years old. Meanwhile, the average age of an autism diagnosis was close to age 5.

Parents on Autism Speaks’ Facebook page reported that they were often told that “boys speak late” or that their child wanted to cuddle too much or had too much eye contact to be on the spectrum, leading to a lack of early interventions such as educational, behavioral, speech, occupational, and physical therapies that have been shown to improve outcomes in autistic children.

One mother on AS’s Facebook page put it this way: “I was one of those parents. I pushed and got a new Doctor. If I listened to the first doctor my son would not have gotten the early intervention treatments and he wouldn’t be where he is now. Go with your gut as a parent, you know your kids better than any professionals out there.”

We hope that with better, earlier screening tools that have been developed in the ensuing years, fewer autistic children are now being allowed to slip through the cracks.

Tagged with: Epidemiology
Beth Arky
Beth Arky is a freelance writer and editor who writes extensively about children’s developmental, mental health, and learning issues along with parenting and … Read Bio