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Rutgers study: Autism 'approaching 7 percent'; < half of kids get early intervention

July 28, 2022, Mirage: Only Half of Children With Autism Receive Early Intervention Services
Socially disadvantaged children and those from minority backgrounds are less likely to receive services before 36 months of age, Rutgers study finds
Despite a federal mandate requiring access to early intervention programs (EIP) for children with disabilities, fewer than half of autistic children in four New Jersey counties received services before 36 months of age, according to a Rutgers study.

Income and race-based disparities were significant obstacles to accessing EIP support, researchers found….

Shenouda and her colleagues analyzed data collected between 2006 and 2016 by the New Jersey Autism Study, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) monitoring system developed and maintained by researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

By analyzing the medical and special education records of 23,441 children in Essex, Hudson, Ocean and Union counties, the researchers identified 4,050 8-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder. Fewer than half (1,887; 47 percent) had received EIP services….

“New Jersey is known as an epicenter of autism, but it also has many resources for autism detection and treatment,” she said. “If only half of the children with autism in our study area are getting early interventions, chances are the disparities are even more pronounced in other communities and regions with fewer services.”…

Shenouda added: “With autism prevalence estimates approaching 7 percent [one in every 14 children] in some areas, we need universal autism screening between 18 and 36 months and enhanced support for the early intervention system. These actions will reduce economic and race-based disparities in autism identification and care.”


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