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Experts Want Insurance Companies to Pay for Early Treatment for Autism

One of the foremost experts on autism is urging parents to have their babies screened for the disorder as early as possible, and to start treatment in children as young as 14 months.

Autism can be detected before age two, yet the average age of diagnosis is four and a half, according to Dr. Patricia Wright, a specialist at the Hawaii Department of Child and Adolescent Health.

Dr. Wright says that early intervention may be the best hope for autistic children, who now number almost one in 150. Such treatment costs as much as $50,000 a year, because it involves about 25 hours a week of one-on-one or one-on-two teaching. However, Dr. Wright says such intervention offers autistic children the best chance of growing up to become productive adults. Insurance coverage is cost-effective, she says, because "they learn independent skills so they don't need continued lifelong support."

Dr. Wright and other experts are asking government agencies and insurance companies to pay for treatment in young children, though outcome-based evidence is scant at this time. However, researchers at the University of Washington are currently studying whether early intervention can prevent the disorder in siblings of children with autism. Their results may determine the fate of early intervention programs.

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Labels: autism, treatment, insurance

Posted By: Aspen Education Group