Advocate for Universal Autism Screening in Children

autismMcGillReporter

Target: U.S. Preventative Services Task Force Chair, Albert L. Siu, MD, MSPH

Goal: Screen all children for autism and related developmental disorders in order to ensure early treatment.

The USPSTF recently issued a statement saying that there is not enough evidence to recommend universal screening for autism in children. Despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that all children be screened for autism and related disorders, the USPSTF maintains that the benefits of screening may not outweigh the risks based on insufficient evidence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 68 children today have autism spectrum disorder. In the year 2000, the prevalence was 1 in 150. Given this dramatic increase, it is clear that autism is not a rare disorder and is profoundly affecting many children and their communities.

Experts in the autism community maintain that early diagnosis and intervention can greatly improve long term outcomes in terms of social skills, occupational functioning, and overall health. The USPSTF has also concluded that any adverse effects associated with screening is likely low based on the accuracy of screening.

It is time to fully utilize the resources of the health care community to give all children an early start at addressing the issues associated with this disorder. By signing the petition below, you will be advocating for all children, regardless of economic or social background, to be properly screened for autism.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Siu & U.S. Preventative Services Task Force,

The incidence of autism has been dramatically increasing for over a decade. Though the disorder can cause great impairment for children and create hardship for affected families and communities, it has been shown that early diagnoses lead to more positive outcomes.

In order to ensure that all children, regardless of economic, cultural, or language barriers, reap the benefits of potential early diagnoses, it is necessary to adopt universal screening recommendations.

I strongly encourage you to adopt the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that all children be screened for autism at a young age. By working towards universal autism screening, you will be part of the solution to the challenges of this widespread disorder.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: McGill Reporter

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