With New Numbers on Increase in Autism Prevalence, it's More Important than Ever to Make the First Five Count for Kids

Early Identification and Treatment is Crucial for Kids to Get the Best Start in Life
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This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new study on the prevalence of autism among 8 year olds in 2008. It is now one in 88 children, and one in 54 for boys, which would suggest that more children are being identified and should receive the services and supports they need for best outcomes.

"We are completely missing the mark on early diagnosis given that autism can be accurately identified at 24 months. This new data reports that the median age of diagnosis is 48 months for Autistic Disorder, 53 months for ASD/PDD and 75 months for Asperger's Disorder," says Patricia Wright, PhD, MPH, National Director of Autism Services, Easter Seals. "We have a lot of work to do in the area of early identification. More than ever, there's an increasing need for funding, services and support."

Monitor Their Milestones 
Earlier detection gives children that critical window of opportunity and access to early intervention and treatment. Easter Seals is working to get the average age of diagnosis close to where it should be, at age two.

Through the generous support of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, Easter Seals is offering free access to the Ages and Stages Questionnaires by Brookes Publishing. The online screening tool helps parents and caregivers monitor a child's development. All parents and caregivers are highly encouraged to go to MaketheFirstFiveCount.org and complete the online screening tool.

Easter Seals Helps Kids Get the Best Start in Life 
Every year, more than one million young children with unidentified disabilities—including autism—enter school with learning and health issues that put them far behind their peers and have a lasting, negative effect on their ability to meet their full potential. When kids get the right treatment and therapy they need before the age of five, they are ready to learn alongside their peers, build lifelong skills and achieve their dreams.

Through Make the First Five Count, Easter Seals is raising awareness of and advocating for early detection and early intervention services for kids who may be at risk for autism, developmental delays or other disabilities. Easter Seals serves more than 16,000 individuals with autism, up from 5,000 three years ago. Make the First Five Count is helping individuals with autism get the care, guidance and support they need—when they need it most.