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Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Blog

Youngest Possible Age to Screen for Autism

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
By:  DBP team

Previous research has suggested that the recommended age of diagnoses for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is between 18 to 24 months, but a new study is suggesting that autism can be reliably diagnosed at an earlier age. 

A study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics has released new data that suggests diagnosis can occur at 14 months old, allowing for children to receive critical therapies that can improve outcomes. If children enter intensive therapies at an early age, this opens up the opportunity to see their progress by school age. The benefit of starting early is making the most of the plasticity of the brain. The first 24 months is when the frontal cortex is making the majority of the connections.

To contrast this, children are currently beginning treatment at 3 to 4 years of age. The downside to this is much of those essential connections have already been made in the brain. Diagnosing earlier and providing services can help to prevent the challenging behaviors that are common with ASD and enables families to create a network of support systems to allow their children to have authentic experiences.

Here is the link to the full CNN article: