By: Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics
"Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has a tremendous impact on families, affecting an estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. Because early identification and referral for appropriate intervention are critical to ensuring that children with autism have access to effective therapies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children be screened for ASD at ages 18 and 24 months, along with regular developmental surveillance.
"The draft recommendation statement on autism screening released Aug. 3 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force runs counter to AAP guidelines. The AAP remains committed to its recommendation for the timely screening and identification of children who would benefit from early intervention and treatment.
"Formal screening using standardized tools helps to identify children with significant developmental and behavioral challenges early, when they may benefit most from intervention, as well as those with other developmental difficulties. Parents who have concerns about their child's development, especially about the way their child plays, learns, speaks, acts or moves, should talk with their child's doctor. A child who has developmental delays can begin therapy before a formal diagnosis has been made.
"Research shows that early intervention can considerably improve children's long-term development and social behaviors. The AAP remains committed to providing its 64,000 member pediatricians with the tools and training they need to appropriately identify children with autism spectrum disorder and refer them to the treatment and services they need."