(August 3, 2015) - The American Academy of Pediatrics has joined autism advocacy groups in urging continued universal screening for autism at 18 and 24 months, in response to a call, by the US Preventive Services Task Force, for more research on its benefits. Below is a joint statement from Autism Speaks and the Autism Science Foundation.
"At a time when 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism, early identification, diagnosis and treatment is crucial to give them the best opportunity to reach their full potential. The ambiguity of the statement offered by the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) on autism screening is troubling and may be easily misinterpreted. While the task force does not explicitly recommend against screening for autism, it states there is insufficient evidence to support autism-specific screening in medical settings and calls for more research in this area.
As a result, the task force has failed to fully endorse screening despite an abundance of research that demonstrates it is effective. Screening leads to earlier identification of autism and opportunities for early intervention, which improves the lives of children with the disorder. The task force recommends that doctors rely on clinical judgment. This is not sufficient to identify all individuals with signs and symptoms of autism at an early age. Moreover, screening is quick, affordable and has no substantial risk.
We intend to review the USPSTF report and its methodology to understand why it differs from other evidence-based recommendations from the American Association of Pediatrics and from experts in the field of autism spectrum disorders. Every child deserves an early, accurate diagnosis, and we are hopeful that after the review period the USPSTF will fully recommend autism screening for all children."