About 30 percent of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States don’t get any treatment at all, according to a new study published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics. The study looked at 43,032 children and found that about 43% got behavioral treatment only, about 7% got medication only and some 20% received both treatments. The rest were not treated. The study’s findings are significant given the importance of early and ongoing intervention.
“We know that starting treatment as early as possible can make a lifetime of difference,” says Dr. Terry Hamlin, Associate Executive Director at The Center for Discovery, “and that’s why it’s so vital that parents speak to their pediatrician if they have any concerns.”
The study’s authors, from the University of Iowa, note the critical need to understand and address “the barriers” that are preventing children from receiving the appropriate treatments. Dr. Hamlin agrees. “There are far too many children and families who don’t have access to the care they need and it’s one of the reasons we’re so committed to advancing more comprehensive models of care, and implementing telehealth and other innovative delivery models to reach thousands more people.” (Read here for more on TCFD’s approach to care.)
The study shows the prevalence of ASD varies widely between states with most cases reported in Florida (4.88%), and the least number reported in Texas (1.54%). The study’s authors say more investigation is needed to understand why there are these geographic variations.
One note: the study relies on data showing 1 in 40 children have autism. The most commonly accepted standard of autism prevalence is 1 in 59 children, which has been determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).