A new U.S. Census Bureau report finds more than 1 in 5 children – some 16.1 million – still living in poverty. The numbers are worse – 1 in 4 – among toddlers and preschoolers, the age group targeted by Autism Speaks Early Access to Care (EAC) initiative.
EAC seeks to lower the average age of autism diagnosis in the U.S. from the current 4 years to 2 years, with special emphasis on eliminating the gap in access to screening and services among disadvantaged families. Research confirms that early intervention for toddlers and preschoolers provides the greatest opportunity to improve outcomes.
“The numbers in this new report underscore the tremendous need to increase access to quality autism screening and interventions among children living in poverty,” comments Amy Daniels, Autism Speaks assistant director for public health. “Autism Speaks is working closely with community-based organizations to ensure that our resources reach those who need them most. Through our advocacy efforts, we are also working at the state and federal levels to promote access to evidence-based early intervention services through health insurance reform, including Medicaid-covered services for poor and near-poor families.”