You must’ve heard the psychologists and experts talking about the importance of an early autism diagnosis. A recent study has revealed just how an early ASD diagnosis may be a game-changer for your child’s clinical outcomes.
A research article published in the SAGE journals highlights the importance of an early autism diagnosis in children and its direct relation to improvement in social skills (Gabbay-Dizdar et al., 2021).
Researchers found that children who were diagnosed with autism before 2 and a half years of age showed greater improvement in social skills as compared to children who were diagnosed later.
Data was gathered on 131 children with autism who were 2.6 years old, on average, at diagnosis, and 4.1 years old, on average, at follow-up. Researchers administered the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) at the time of diagnosis and again during the follow-up to measure autism traits.
A surprising 65 percent of children diagnosed early showed significant improvement on the social affect domain of the ADOS during the follow-up about 1 to 2 years later. On the other hand, only 23 percent of children diagnosed later showed significant improvement during the follow-up.
Children from the early and late-diagnosis groups who started with comparable ADOS scores were analyzed. It was found that about three times as many early-diagnosed children showed significant improvements on the ADOS as late-diagnosed children. This confirms that the findings are not just a reflection of differences in trait severity at the time of diagnosis.
One of the reasons why this study is so important is that – currently, the average age for an ASD diagnosis is 4. This study shows the benefits of an ASD diagnosis before 2.5 years of age. These findings highlight the significance of diagnosing children early in order to improve their clinical outcomes.
Another unique aspect of this study is that the children who participated in this study received heterogeneous clinical and educational services; in other words, they received the treatment available in the community. This essentially means that even with heterogeneous services, just an early ASD diagnosis was the main factor responsible for better outcomes.
Access the research article here: