Study: 1 in 4 children with autism not diagnosed

Tanager Place therapists can do a lot to help children with autism better communicate and learn social skills, but they are most effective when they begin early.

There’s also a reason this neurological condition is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. That is, symptoms can be wide-ranging, making it difficult for parents to know if and when their child needs extra help. This is part of the reason why researchers say one in four children with autism and under the age of 8 haven’t been diagnosed.

The study, published in the journal “Autism Research,” also indicated children without a diagnosis are more likely to be people of color with fewer developmental problems than those with a clinical diagnosis of ASD. Nonetheless, the children identified in the study had ability and social skill deficits that were not being professionally addressed.

“There may be various reasons for the disparity, from communication or cultural barriers between minority parents and physicians to anxiety about the complicated diagnosis process and fear of stigma,” said Walter Zahorodny, Ph.D., the study’s co-author and associate professor at Rutgers Medical School.

The study surveyed nearly 4,500 children from 11 states, including Iowa neighbors Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota, and found that just over 1,100 had not received a diagnosis. The survey was conducted with the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which is funded by the CDC.

Study authors said states should focus on what will help children, which can mean requiring insurance companies to cover therapy services for those at risk, even before an official diagnosis. Because such a diagnosis takes time, the grace period would allow children to access treatment sooner.

The Tanager Place School Year Social Skill Group for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder is an ongoing and valuable resource for parents and students. At the beginning of the year, we opened a new section for kindergarten and first grade students, and space remains available in other sections as well.

To learn more about the program and eligibility requirements, please reach out to Jennifer Arellano.

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