Autism Spectrum Australia

Research shows children miss out on vital early intervention therapies due to delays in diagnosis

  • Posted: Wed, 07/11/2018 - 9:20am

New research by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) shows that up to 70% of children diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum may have missed out on important early intervention therapies due to delays in receiving a diagnosis.

Vicki Gibbs, National Manager, Aspect Research, led the study which investigated the diagnostic pathways of 215 children referred to Autism Spectrum Australia for assessment. Findings show that the average age of diagnosis for a child on the autism spectrum was 5 years.

“This late diagnosis is concerning because there is substantial evidence to show that a reliable diagnosis of autism can be made in children as young as 2 years of age, and further evidence to suggest that children who receive intervention therapies at a younger age are more responsive ,” Ms Gibbs said.

The study examined the time between the parents first concerns for their child and their first consultation with a professional, and between that first consultation and a diagnosis.

“What we found was that while many parents were recognising early developmental signs in their children, generally around 2 years of age, and taking action in a timely manner, on average about 8 months later - approximately 70% of parents reported that at their first professional consultation they had either been re-assured that there were no concerns, advised to take a “wait and see” approach, or their child had been diagnosed with a condition other than autism.

“This led to a delayed diagnosis of up to 3 years for some children, meaning that these children missed the opportunity for vital early intervention therapy,” she said.

The study also found that the gap between first concerns and an eventual diagnosis was longest for those with milder forms of autism and those who also presented with co-morbid conditions such as ADHD or anxiety disorder.

Ms Gibbs said it was important that parents with concerns had easy access to information on developmental milestones and the early signs of autism, and that medical and health professionals were appropriately trained to detect early indicators of autism and milder forms of autism, and to tease out autism from other developmental disorders.

“We found that many practicians lack the confidence, or were hesitant, to identify autism in children under 3 years, and have a strong tendency to adopt a “wait and see” approach, delaying a professional diagnosis.

“What we would like to see is medical and health professionals with any doubts refer patients on to specialist assessment services, rather than adopting a “wait and see” approach.

“That way the child and the family get the best possible start to achieving the best possible outcomes for their child.” 

To access the full study visit – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1750946718301569?dgcid=author

New research by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) shows that up to 70% of children diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum may have missed out on important early intervention therapies due to delays in receiving a diagnosis.

Vicki Gibbs, National Manager, Aspect Research, led the study which investigated the diagnostic pathways of 215 children referred to Autism Spectrum Australia for assessment. Findings show that the average age of diagnosis for a child on the autism spectrum was 5 years.

“This late diagnosis is concerning because there is substantial evidence to show that a reliable diagnosis of autism can be made in children as young as 2 years of age, and further evidence to suggest that children who receive intervention therapies at a younger age are more responsive ,” Ms Gibbs said.

The study examined the time between the parents first concerns for their child and their first consultation with a professional, and between that first consultation and a diagnosis.

“What we found was that while many parents were recognising early developmental signs in their children, generally around 2 years of age, and taking action in a timely manner, on average about 8 months later - approximately 70% of parents reported that at their first professional consultation they had either been re-assured that there were no concerns, advised to take a “wait and see” approach, or their child had been diagnosed with a condition other than autism.

“This led to a delayed diagnosis of up to 3 years for some children, meaning that these children missed the opportunity for vital early intervention therapy,” she said.

The study also found that the gap between first concerns and an eventual diagnosis was longest for those with milder forms of autism and those who also presented with co-morbid conditions such as ADHD or anxiety disorder.

Ms Gibbs said it was important that parents with concerns had easy access to information on developmental milestones and the early signs of autism, and that medical and health professionals were appropriately trained to detect early indicators of autism and milder forms of autism, and to tease out autism from other developmental disorders.

“We found that many practicians lack the confidence, or were hesitant, to identify autism in children under 3 years, and have a strong tendency to adopt a “wait and see” approach, delaying a professional diagnosis.

“What we would like to see is medical and health professionals with any doubts refer patients on to specialist assessment services, rather than adopting a “wait and see” approach.

“That way the child and the family get the best possible start to achieving the best possible outcomes for their child.” 

To access the full study visit – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1750946718301569?dgcid=author

 

Research shows children miss out on vital early intervention therapies due to delays in diagnosis