Parents in the US can take a sigh of relief because a recent study published in Pediatrics found that community-based primary care doctors with specialized training make accurate autism diagnoses in most cases.
This primarily applies to pre-school ages children and comes mere months after the CDC announced that 1 in 36 children are now diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). After that news, many parents wondered about the accuracy of diagnoses.
Specialists Are Better Equipped
The current study confirms previous research: An autism diagnosis is complex and often requires a specially trained professional.
82% of cases in the study were diagnosed accurately, with 60% being diagnosed with ASD and 22% correctly identified as not having ASD. Only 5% were falsely identified as having autism.
The researchers believe the study provides “strong empirical support for tiered community-based models of ASD diagnosis.” Often when specialists are part of a state-wide referral system and receive additional training, diagnoses are more accurate.
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In this case, the Early Autism Evaluation (EAE) Hub doctors referred 126 children, aged 14 to 48 months, to this prospective diagnostic study for blinded follow-up expert evaluation.
“This research has significant implications for developing future population health solutions that address ASD diagnostic delays,” the researchers stated.
However, care must be taken when interpreting a study with a limited sample size.
Where To Start With Diagnosis
Before approaching an expert with specialized knowledge, it is always a good idea to at least spot some of the common features of autism in your child. These can include:
- avoiding eye contact
- no response to their name by nine months of age
- no interest by 12 months in interactive games
- no interest in others by 15 months
- no pointing by 18 months
- does not respond to others’ emotions by 24 months
- does not join other children by 36 months
- no pretend play by 48 months
- no singing, dancing, or other theatrics by 60 months old
The latest study debunks the myth that more children are wrongly diagnosed with autism, especially if the diagnosis is made by a specialist you have been referred to.