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What is Autism?

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability  that can cause compelling social, communication and behavioral challenges. According to Organization for Autism Research, two independent studies published in “Pediatrics” and “JAMA Pediatrics” estimate that one in 40 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Both studies drew data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health. The studies looked at more than 43,000 children between ages 3 to 17.

This new estimate is higher than the autism prevalence rate currently reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of 59 children are diagnose with this disability. As the CDC describes its process, the estimates are drawn from 11 sites across the country and limited to children who are 8 years old. They are based on comprehensive evaluations completed by professional service providers in the community and reviewed systematically by experienced clinicians.

The research team that published in “Pediatrics” was also interested in measuring parent-reported treatment and healthcare experiences compared to those for other children. Parents of children with ASD reported having greater healthcare needs and barriers to healthcare access compared to children with other emotional or behavioral disorders and children without these conditions. They were 44 percent more likely to report problems getting mental health treatment and 46 percent more likely to report not receiving needed mental health care. They were also two times more likely to report being frustrated in getting services and 24 percent less likely to receive needed care coordination.

The research team that published its findings in “JAMA Pediatrics” noted that almost 30 percent of children diagnosed with ASD did not receive any behavioral treatments or medication during 2016.

Be as it may with these results, there is still hope. The medical association will recognize applied behavioral analysis (ABA) as medically necessary under appropriate circumstances, Fisher said. ABA involves goal setting, consequences and positive reinforcement for behaviors and has passed rigorous scientific tests of its quality and effectiveness to improve outcomes in language and social skills for many children with autism, according to Autism Speaks. The changes will include eight new permanent codes for individual and group behavior therapy, plus family and multiple-family training and instruction.“When those were temporary codes, not many insurance companies reimbursed for that,” Fisher said. “We’re hopeful with permanent codes there will be a broader array of services available to families.”


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