At KTAR-FM in Phoenix, Holliday Moore reports:
Research is showing we can make a reliable autism diagnosis at 18 and 24 months and researchers are working to get that age lower,” Dr. Christopher Smith at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix said.
Why does that matter to the math?
“The longer parents wait to see if their child has autism, the more time is lost,” Smith said.
With autism, every hour lost equals multiple hours of energy and money spent trying to correct dysfunctional habits later.
“Autism is a pervasive developmental delay that limits a child’s level of functioning in specific areas and separates their level of functioning from their peers,” Smith explained.
Both children and adults who are screened for autism by their primary care physician often head to SARRC if they tested positive.
During the past year, an additional 175 children between 12 and 36 months old have visited the clinic, thanks to an early intervention initiative launched by SARRC and the University of California-San Diego.
It’s called the Get SET Early Model project. The SET part stands for Screen, Evaluate and Treat. The National Institute of Mental Health funded the project.
“Five years ago, investigators at UCSD asked pediatricians to screen at well baby visits,” Smith said. “They found it significantly lowered the age of diagnosis.”