Susan Hyman, M.D.
Early intervention for symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder -- even before the condition is formally diagnosed -- is critical for helping families improve outcomes for their children, according to updated recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The new clinical report to guide diagnosis and care of children with autism is the AAP's first in 12 years and reflects changes in how autism is diagnosed and treated. Specific autism screenings are recommended at 18 and 24 months, at the same time as typical well-child visits. During these visits, pediatricians gauge milestones reflecting social communication, which could provide early signs of autism, according to Susan Hyman, M.D., lead author of the report and professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Golisano Children's Hospital.
"Social milestones like eye pointing to indicate interest, pointing to share interest and engaging in pretend play are not milestones that most parents are looking for, and might miss if not specifically asked about in the form of screening," said Hyman, past chair of the AAP's subcommittee on Autism.