Autism Spectrum Disorder - An Overview
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a brain-based disorder characterized by social-communication challenges, and restricted and repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests. In the most recent data from 2018 from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, it is estimated that 1 in 59 children has been identified with ASD. Ten years prior (in 2008), the prevalence of ASD was estimated at 1 in 88 by the CDC ADDM Network.
ASD is diagnosed more than 4 times as frequently in boys than in girls, and occurs across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. More white children are identified with ASD than black and Latinx children. Some barriers to identification have been cited as lack of access to healthcare due to lower socioeconomic status or citizenship status, language, and stigma. Although prevalence ratios comparing different racial and ethnic groups were lower in the most recent ADDM report than in previous reports, black and Latinx children still continue to be screened and referred to services less frequently than white children.
Despite the growing prevalence of ASD, fewer than half of children with ASD receive their first developmental evaluation by 3 years of age and, subsequently, more than half receive a diagnosis after 4 years of age. Primary care providers (PCP) are uniquely positioned to screen and help identify children with ASD. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published a new clinical care guideline “Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder” in January 2020. There is also a complementary online course by the AAP entitled “Identifying and Caring for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Course for Pediatric Clinicians” which is offered at no cost until 4/19/2023. Participants can earn up to 6.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits, 6.50 NAPNAP contact hours, and 6 MOC Part 2 credits for free.