This year we mark a unique Autism Awareness Month, with most of us having been isolated and socially distanced for over a year. While that is hard on all of us, it is a crisis for young children. Full data on early intervention services in 2020 are not yet available, but the statistics that are out show trends that must concern us all:
- In the 2019-2020 school year, even before the full impact of the pandemic, the number of 3 to 5-year-olds receiving Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B services dropped by 12 percent versus the previous year.
- A study in New York City found 15 percent fewer infants and toddlers receiving services in the summer of 2020 versus the summer of 2019. New referrals were down even more.
- Race-based disparities are evident. On average, black children with autism receive their diagnosis almost two years older than white children and black children with autism were almost 3 times less likely to receive an autism diagnosis on their first specialist visit than white children.
This information is troubling for all of us, not just the children and families whose children are not being screened. There is ample research demonstrating the efficacy and efficiency of early intervention, and societal costs increase dramatically when interventions are delayed or withheld. That’s why I’m asking for your help!
Please do all you can to spread the word about Make the First Five Count.
This is a FREE Easterseals screening tool that enables anyone to enter observations about a young child and receive a custom report of areas of concern, if any, and ways to access early intervention services in your area. If you need any assistance, please also feel free to contact Easterseals’ Senior Director of Early Intervention and Therapy, Jill Chimka.
You can also learn more about living with autism by registering for our Candid Conversations Webinar on Tuesday, April 20 at 2:00pm EST. Join our panel of subject matter experts as they share resources on how to navigate from childhood to adulthood at this monthly Candid Conversations: Pathways through Life – Growing up with Autism.
For more information on how to ensure your children continue to thrive during the pandemic, check out other topics from our Candid Conversation series:
- Make the First Five Count: How to Ensure Your Child Stays on Track During COVID-19
- How to Talk to Our Children About Racism.
With your help, we can ensure that children continue to receive life-changing screening and therapy services. Thank you!