The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its recommendations for the first time in 12 years when it comes to autism diagnoses. Instead of waiting for formal evaluations, they are urging doctors to identify at-risk children as soon as possible. They would like doctors to begin checking for signs of autism at every well-baby visit rather than wait for formal evaluations that don’t typically take place until 18 – 24 months of age. This is beneficial for two reasons. First, children can start getting the care they need. Second, as with many conditions, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome. 

Autism Diagnoses Are On The Rise

Autism is being diagnosed more than in the past and there could be many reasons for this.  In 2007, autism affected 1 in 155 kids. Now it affects around 1 in 59. Possible reasons include a more inclusive definition, greater public awareness, universal screening, broadened diagnostic criteria and some children who were once diagnosed with an intellectual disability or co-occurring genetic syndrome are now being diagnosed with autism instead. There could be other risk factors as well.

What Should Parents Know?

Scientists now know a lot more about potential risk factors for autism as well as how genetics play a role. The Academy is urging doctors to talk to families about genetic testing. This can help when it comes to understanding the cause and type of autism a child has, which can play a role in treatment. It’s better to consult your doctor than turn to the internet, which can too easily point to incorrect information and/or false solutions.