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Massachusetts General Law dedicates the month of April to raising awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is estimated to be the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in different ways. The term “spectrum” refers to the varying degree of symptoms, skills, and level of disability individuals may experience. Anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender can have ASD; however, it is 4.5 times more common among males than females. The prevalence of Autism today in the United States is one in every 68 children, according to the CDC.

An experienced professional can diagnose a child as young as two years old, but many children do not receive a diagnosis until much later. The steps involved in a diagnosis are a developmental screening and a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.  Awareness and education around ASD remains an important step to ensuring individuals with ASD receive a diagnosis along with appropriate supports.

The CDC reports that many children identified with ASD are not receiving comprehensive developmental evaluations as early as they could.  Data indicates early intervention can make a positive difference for individuals with ASD.

Resources available to children and families in Massachusetts include:

  • Family TIES of Massachusetts (Together In Enhancing Support) is a statewide information, referral, and parent support network for families of children with disabilities. Contact Massachusetts Family TIES at 800-905-TIES (8437) or 617-624-5992 (TTY).
  • Public Health Supports and Services- Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) offers programs and services to children with special needs and their families. Callers may reach the DPH Community Support Line at 800-882-1435 (in MA only), 617-624-6060 or 617-624-5992 (TTY).

Please share this post to help promote greater awareness and understanding of ASD and the resources that are available.

 

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