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Autism Cases on the Rise

According to the Pediatrics study, the rise could be attributed to a broader definition of ASD and an increased awareness of the disorder, leading to earlier and more frequent diagnoses. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the age of diagnoses is decreasing, which leads to a higher total. It also points out that some children now diagnosed with ASD may previously have been misdiagnosed with a different disorder, such as mental retardation, and those with mild symptoms may not have been diagnosed under older standards. All of these factors could cause a rise in reported ASD cases, without the prevalence of the disorder actually increasing.

However, the AAP does not rule out the possibility that there has been a true increase in ASD cases. It is currently preparing studies to be conducted over time that examine ASD rates in the same population group and use the same classification methods.

Heightened awareness among doctors and parents has made ASD easier to diagnose. The AAP advocates early screening, between the ages of 18 and 24 months, in order to implement effective intervention and treatments. They believe catching ASD and beginning treatment as early as possible are key factors in helping children with this disorder meet their potential.



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