Research shows wide age gap between possible and actual autism diagnosis (w/Video)

May 4, 2009,

"Timely identification and diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can impact a child's development and is the key to opening the door to the services and therapies available to children with autism," says Paul Shattuck, Ph.D., assistant professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. "Unfortunately, our research shows that the average age of autism diagnosis is nearly six years old, which is three to four years after diagnosis is possible."

Shattuck is the lead author of an article on the timing of ASD identification in the current issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

He and study co-authors used data from 13 sites around the country that were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect information from the health and education records of eight year olds with a wide variety of developmental problems in 2002.

Research from Paul Shattuck at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis finds that the average age for children being diagnosed with autism is almost six years old. This is three to four years later than diagnosis is possible. Credit: Washington University in St. Louis

Shattuck's research found that females were identified later than males and that early diagnosis was usually linked to a more severe or obvious cognitive impairment. There were no disparities in the age of diagnosis by race when the data are pooled from all 13 sites. However, in further analyses reported elsewhere, Shattuck and colleagues have found that Black and Hispanic children who meet diagnostic criteria for are much less likely to actually have a documented diagnosis in their records.

"This data shows that there is a critical need for further research, innovation, and improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of autism," he says.

Shattuck's upcoming research will look at the next series of CDC health and education data from 2004 and 2006 to see if there is an improvement in the average age of diagnosis. He has also received funding to study another important transition in the lives of children with autism — leaving high school and entering young adulthood.

"With the increased awareness about ASDs, I hope that we will start to see this gap shrink," he says.

Shattuck says that parents need to trust their instincts. "If there is something about your child's development that concerns you, or if your child is exhibiting some symptoms of autism such as a failure to make eye contact, not speaking one word by 16 months, or not responding to their name, talk to your child's pediatrician," he says. "If the doctor ignores your concerns, seek a second opinion."

Source: Washington University in St. Louis (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Infants are able to learn abstract rules visually

February 22, 2018
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent Northwestern University study published in PLOS One.

Color of judo uniform has no effect on winning

February 22, 2018
New research on competitive judo data finds a winning bias for the athlete who is first called, regardless of the colour of their uniform. This unique study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, puts to rest the debate on ...

Antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults, concludes study

February 22, 2018
Meta-analysis of 522 trials includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

How people cope with difficult life events fuels development of wisdom, study finds

February 21, 2018
How a person responds to a difficult life event such as a death or divorce helps shape the development of their wisdom over time, a new study from Oregon State University suggests.

Researchers uncover novel mechanism behind schizophrenia

February 21, 2018
An international team of researchers led by a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientist has uncovered a novel mechanism in which a protein—neuregulin 3—controls how key neurotransmitters are released ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.