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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reaction to the Screening Recommendation

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss early screening. Rita Price reports at The Columbus Dispatch:
A draft recommendation from a federal task force says there’s not enough evidence to support universal checks — a position contrary to guidelines from other health associations and advocacy groups that urge early screening for all.

The difference in views comes amid a sharp rise in autism diagnoses. According to the most recent federal estimates, the disorder affects about 1 in 68 of the nation’s children.

Early screening and early identification lead to early intervention,” said Shawn Henry, executive director of the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence. “And we know that works.”

Henry and others say the recommendation, released this week and open for public comment until 8 p.m. on Aug. 31, is likely to draw strong reaction. The panel responsible for it, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, is influential.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is sticking by its standards, which recommend screening for all children at ages 18 and 24 months. The academy’s president, Dr. Sandra Hassink, said early identification and referrals “are critical to ensuring that children with autism have access to effective therapies.”

Autism Speaks and the Autism Science Foundation, in a joint statement, called the draft proposal troubling and said it could be misinterpreted.

Though the task force does not explicitly discourage screening for autism, its proposal “has failed to fully endorse screening,” the groups said.