Studies show that kids who start treatment early demonstrate increased social and cognitive functioning, which can, in turn, result in more independence as they mature. “The earlier the diagnosis, and the earlier the referral [to services], the better,” says Dr. Susan Levy, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and Director of the Autism Integrated Care Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Services provided following an early diagnosis can ease a toddler’s transition into preschool, and later into kindergarten, by giving the child the chance to develop social and motor skills. Screening all children for autism at their 18 and 24 month well visits, when indicators start to stabilize, could also help to close important socioeconomic and racial gaps around services and treatment.
Read more about early identification in The Hechinger Report and Slate.