The Newly Expanded Recommendations on Autism Are Good News for Kids
Earlier and more frequent screenings are now advised to catch more children who might fall through the cracks
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children get screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at their 18- and 24-month well-child checkups. Last week, those recommendations were significantly enhanced.
The new guidelines now recommend developmental and behavioral surveillance at nine, 18, and 30 months in addition to the standardized ASD screening at 18 and 24 months.
I am hopeful that this shift will reduce the number of children who experience social, academic, and behavioral challenges but miss out on early intervention therapies because they lack an actual ASD diagnosis.
This is what happened to me.
When I was a toddler, doctors labeled me with “sensory processing issues,” but no autism diagnosis, because I didn’t display the stereotypical symptoms that were associated with ASD in the early ’80s.
These days, we know so much more about autism. We know that girls on the spectrum are frequently overlooked because the disorder often doesn’t present itself with the same traditional symptoms as seen in boys. We know the bulk of existing autism research has focused on boys and tragically skewed the scientific community’s understanding of autism. As a result, many girls with ASD either go undiagnosed, or they get diagnosed much later in life.
This also happened to me.
I didn’t receive my autism (Asperger’s) diagnosis until I was in my mid-thirties and had a daughter of my own with speech regression, sensory processing issues, and a certain “rigidity” resembling obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I sought evaluation for myself at the prompting of one of my daughter’s therapists. More on that in a moment.
After a frenectomy at two years old to take care of her posterior tongue-tie, my daughter required intensive speech and physical therapy. It was a battle to get insurance to cover her treatment for even six months. Aetna wanted to cut her off at just 14 sessions, or seven weeks.