Sunday, March 31, 2019
The twelfth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2019. In the US, we celebrate every April as Autism Awareness Month. At The Scott Center for Autism Treatment, we focus on autism awareness every day, all year round!
One of our most important initiatives we have to increase autism awareness is the promotion of early developmental screening. The importance of developmental screening for ALL children cannot be over emphasized. Research shows treating children earlier for autism can help mitigate its effects. Screening can identify at risk children early, when they may benefit most from intervention. For screening to be effective however, it must be applied to all children – not just those with symptoms. Screening occurs prior to diagnosis. And just because your child’s screening may show an increased risk of autism, it doesn’t mean they will actually be diagnosed with autism.
For screening, most pediatricians use the M-CHAT-R, a short questionnaire filled out by parents that most families find easy to complete. Using this standardized screening tool, pediatricians can identify children at risk for autism, which will prompt follow-up conversations about monitoring language and behavioral development, as well as possible next steps – which may include a formal diagnostic test.
Unfortunately, the Center for Disease Control found that only about 20% of children between the ages 10 months and 5 years received a standardized developmental screener, such as the M-CHAT-R, in their previous year. As a parent, you should politely insist that your child receive M-CHAT-R screening for autism at the benchmark ages of 18 and 24 months. And remember, screening tests don’t always identify all children with ASD. The rate of success for the M-CHAT isn’t 100%, so it should be used in combination with health and family history to identify children at risk. Your opinions as a parent are irreplaceable and of the utmost importance. Remember, there is no “judgment call” to be made about whether or not to screen for autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines are explicitly clear that ALL children should receive screening for autism and related development disorders.
So join us along with the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world, that will “light it up blue” in recognition of people living with autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support. Stay tuned as we will keep you posted on our area events on our website and facebook page.
If you any questions or would like to sponsor the event, contact The Scott Center for Autism Treatment at http://www.thescottcenter.org