Autism being detected earlier; pediatricians seeing greater benefits

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An encouraging new study shows kids with autism are being identified younger than ever before, and that's good news as critical therapy can now start earlier. (KABC)

An encouraging new study shows kids with autism are being identified younger than ever before, and that's good news as critical therapy can now start earlier.

Parents and pediatricians say they're starting to see significant benefits when autism intervention is started at a much earlier age.

At just 2 years old, Ali has excelled in this autism-specific early intervention program for seven months.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children be tested for autism as early as 18 to 24 months. Then, if needed, kids like Ali can get a jump start on therapy.

"Our scientific community has proven early intervention specific to autism can reduce the characteristics of autism that these children experience as they get older. It can improve the ability of these kids to be in mainstream settings," said Dr. Deborah Bilder.

Now, a new study co-authored by Bilder is paving the way for wider access to early intervention - that's because lawmakers, educators and doctors are seeing just how effective the program is.

While it's not until 2 years old that a child's autism diagnosis can become "stable," studies show that behavioral signs can appear as early as 6 to 12 months. Ali's mom, Brittany Coats, is a believer.

"Already, I've seen leaps and bounds improvements in her, so that's hopeful," she said. "And the fact that she's starting to vocalize a lot more and she actually just started saying 'mama,' so that was important to me, and I'm crying now. That just shows that she has potential."

And she said she's excited that Ali and her classmates will get the best shot possible.
Related Topics:
healthchildren's healthautismmedical researchu.s. & worldhealthy living
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