ASD Expert Blames “Detection and Connection” Difficulties for Gaining Access to Early Intervention

September 05, 2022

New Research Shows Only Half of Children with Autism Receive Early Services

According to Josephine Shenouda, an adjunct professor at Rutgers School of Public Health, there are two main reasons that a large number of children with autism do not receive early intervention services. The professor says, “There’s a problem with detection and the connection.” Shenouda should know; she was the lead researcher on a new study that examined disparities in early intervention program participation in New Jersey. Her recent research discovered that only half of the children in the state with autism received services before 36 months. Shenouda’s study also showed that children in affluent areas were 80% more likely to receive care than children in lower socioeconomic areas. Furthermore, Black and Hispanic children were less likely to receive services than non-Hispanic white children. The data collected for this research was specific to four New Jersey counties, but Shenouda believes these statistics represent the country as a whole. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates access to early intervention services for children with disabilities. However, problems arise when many children are not screened at a young age. Additionally, even when children receive proper screenings, some parents do not act on the results or are not aware of treatment options available for their child. Shenouda points out, “Information by itself is not sufficient. We have to find effective strategies to improve that follow-through to connect parents to the services.” Ultimately, the professor believes that early universal autism screenings are crucial and that there is a dire need for more efficient and valid autism screeners. 

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