By Christian Mendez, Board-Certified Behavior Analyst
Just last month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated the incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 8-year-old children from 1 in 44 children in 2018 (2.3%) to 1 in 36 children (2.8%). Given that April is Autism Awareness Month it is important to reflect that this might mean approximately 1 child in every classroom is on the autism spectrum.
The two main diagnostic axes of autism include:
1) restricted and/or repetitive behavior, interests, or activities; and
2) persistent deficits in social communication/interaction.
Many children on the autism spectrum become adults on the autism spectrum without significant impact on their development or access to social and/or educational opportunities. However, still many other school-aged children and teens may experience barriers accessing age-appropriate educational or extracurricular activities without the proper accommodations in place–like an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) [under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)] in the school setting or matching the student with staff experienced in working with neurodivergent individuals.
Early detection of incidence of autism can help prevent children and teens experiencing said barriers from accessing the right educational opportunities and social experiences in the formative and very important years of their lives.
The following local resources are available to any parent or caregiver who feels their child or teen would benefit from an autism screening:
● Parent to Parent of Miami (https://www.ptopmiami.org) : Local non-profit working to help parents learn about, and advocate for, appropriate educational opportunities for their special needs child
● Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System (https://www.fdlrs.org) : A project under the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) helping to guide parents and place students in the school fit for their specific needs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK