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WBUR Boston: Autism is 'urgent public health concern'; why aren't we diagnosing it sooner?

Of Kids With Autism Keeps Growing. Why Aren't We Helping Them More? http://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2018/06/11/autism-cdc-report-ilyse-levine-kanji The CDC announced it had found 1 in 59 of the children studied over 11 geographical areas had autism in 2014. Yes, you read that correctly: 1 in 59. The CDC concluded its report by stating: Reaching nearly 3 percent in some communities and representing an increase of 150 percent since 2000, ASD is an urgent public health concern that could benefit from enhanced strategies to help identify ASD earlier; to determine possible risk factors; and to address the growing behavioral, educational, residential and occupational needs of this population. One important step toward addressing this “urgent public health concern” would be allocating more money for autism research and services. Last fall, the Federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) recommended doubling the federal and private autism research budget to $685 million by 2020. Instead, the National Institutes for Health estimated fiscal year 2018 funding for autism research is lower than the amount spent in 2013. … Expanded early identification and intervention services can result in a higher quality of life for people with autism and lower long-term costs for society. But according to the CDC, only 42 percent of children who were ultimately diagnosed with ASD had a comprehensive evaluation by 36 months. Most U.S. children aren’t diagnosed until they are at least 4 years old. The CDC emphasized that significant disparities in diagnosis remain — primarily related to socioeconomic factors, geography and race/ethnicity — which lead to continued under-diagnosis in underserved communities. (For instance, the CDC found that autism prevalence varied widely among its 11 testing sites, ranging from 1 in 34 in New Jersey to 1 in 76 in Arkansas.)…