by Jonathan Slack
Doctors are now able to diagnose autism in children when they are as young as eighteen months old. This is in stark contrast to the 1990s and early 2000s when many individuals on the spectrum were not being identified until they were between five and eight years old. And of course, there were many children who were diagnosed even later!
Why is diagnosing autism at such an early age important? The younger you are, the more effective Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) or behavioral therapy is. As my story about Jennifer shows, ABA is still effective and helpful as a teenager. A person’s brain always has the capacity to learn and adapt, but younger children are wired in such a way to gain the most benefit from therapy. There is no denying that diagnosing children as young as eighteen months is a huge accomplishment for the medical community and has helped increase beneficial outcomes for individuals on the spectrum.