Routine screening for autism is not routine enough

Everyone talks about how crucial early diagnosis is for children with autism. I wholeheartedly agree. Why then, are we having such a difficult time making this happen? The screening process is quick, easy and unobtrusive. What is the obstacle then?

Unfortunately, we haven’t yet convinced most of the medical community, particularly the pediatricians, that early screening is crucial. Although there are thousands of family physicians and pediatricians who
are screening all their patients for ASD at well child check-ups, we have not convinced the profession as a whole that this needs to be done! To their credit, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended early screening for a long time and provides, free of charge, guidelines to all Pediatricians.

Pediatric Assessment Guidelines
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Regrettably, we still have pediatricians who
recommend against routine screening! In the 2010 edition of Pediatrics, there are prolific pediatricians who recommend that children with autism not be screened! In June 2011, Dr. Geraldine Dawson, the Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer, published a defense of early screening to the journal Pediatrics. It is important to counteract their arguments in their professional journals. Until we convince the outspoken pediatricians that early intervention is key, we are fighting an uphill battle.

That’s why I urge everyone to download a copy of the
above AAP Guidelines and hand deliver them to your own child’s pediatrician and family physician. We need to become advocates, not only for our children, but also for the next generation of children who have yet to be born. There are more parents of children with autism, than pediatricians and family physicians; therefore, we need to educate them relentlessly until they realize that what their professional association (AAP) recommends, the consumer also wants. Put simply, we need to drown out the naysayers through our sheer numbers.

Pay it forward!