New publication supports early diagnosis of children on autism spectrum

A new publication developed by Indiana University centers and the Indiana State Department of Health encourages parents to have their young children evaluated if they suspect autism and provides guidance for professional evaluations.

The free brochure, "Roadmap to Services: When You Are Concerned Your Young Child May Have an Disorder," includes information on the early signs of autism in the areas of communication, social skills and restrictive or repetitive interests, along with steps for obtaining a diagnosis and where to find services and support.

The publication is one of a number of materials being developed with help from an Act Early grant awarded to Indiana and other states by the U.S. . The grant focuses on reducing the average age of diagnosis of children with autism as well as gaining earlier access to intervention services. The Indiana Resource Center for Autism and Riley Child Development Center at IU and other stakeholders partnered with the State Department of Health to develop the materials.

The CDC released new figures in 2012 indicating that the prevalence rate of in the U.S. had climbed to 1 in 88 children. The estimated rate is 1 in 54 among boys and 1 in 252 among girls. In Indiana, based on 2011 census and child count data collected by the Indiana Department of Education, Office of Special Education, the prevalence rate is now approximately 1 in 83 in Indiana schools.

The new Act Early brochure, designed in sunny colors and early childhood imagery, answers the question many families ask: "What if I'm told to wait to see if he/she outgrows it?" The information will empower families to take steps to help their child now. A Spanish version will also be available.

The brochure is available free of charge to any individual or organization in Indiana concerned with the development of young . For more information, contact Cathy Pratt, director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, at 812-855-6508 or prattc@indiana.edu. A printer-friendly online version of the brochure can also be found on the Indiana Resource Center for Autism website.

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