April is Autism Awareness Month

Since April is Autism Awareness month, I thought I’d give a quick rundown of recent autism stories in the news.

1 in 88 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder

The CDC now estimates that 1 in 88 children (and 1 in 54 boys)  in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. While more children than ever are being diagnosed by age 3, 40% still aren’t getting a diagnosis until after age 4. To read the full press release from the CDC, go here.

A new technique for diagnosing autism earlier

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have developed a web-based tool for diagnosing autism utilizing a short home video of the child and only seven questions. They believe that this approach will allow more children to be diagnosed earlier and therefore receive behavioral therapies when they are most effective, in the early development period. Go here to read more about this project.

Autism and the immune system

A new study from the University of Kansas Medical Center has found that children with autism have lower levels of several immune system regulators in their plasma than do children without autism. You can read more about the study here.

Resources around the web for autism

Autism Speaks – The nation’s largest autism advocacy organization. The site features updates on autism research as well as family resources.

Dr. Barry Prizant – First author of the SCERTS model with more than 40 years experience working with people with autism. Check out his articles from Straight Talk about Autism, his column for Autism Spectrum Quarterly. The articles are informative, easy to read, and available to download for free.

Interactive Autism Network (IAN) – An online project bringing together the autism community and researchers in an effort to find answers about this group of disorders. The site has a plethora of information about behaviors, therapies and treatments, and current research.

Gainesville, Florida autism resources

Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) UF – CARD provides training, consultation to parents and providers, and resource referral free of charge.

Will People – This amazing organization collects used iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches, which they donate to local  schools and therapists’ offices to be used as speech-generating devices. The site includes a link to make a monetary contribution.

If you suspect your child has autism (or any developmental delay), it is important to seek help early. You should contact your child’s pediatrician as well as the early intervention program in your area. Florida’s early intervention program is called Early Steps. The Gainesville area is served by North Central Early Steps. You can click on their referrals tab for information about referring your child.

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