Autism

Autism Treatment For Under-Threes Is Key, But Diagnosis Is Tough

Most children with autism are well past their fourth birthday by the time they’re diagnosed with the condition, according to new government data. Their parents and teachers may have raised red flags earlier, but it takes months or years to confirm suspicions with a formal diagnosis.  And therapy rarely starts without one. “The school wouldn’t do anything for us until we had a diagnosis,” said Kimberly Vincent, of Wallingford, whose daughter Rebekah was diagnosed at age 6. That’s why researchers are trying to come up with new strategies for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders as early as possible. Last month’s release of new government data showing autism spectrum disorders now affect one in 68 kids provided an extra push and sense of urgency, several experts said.

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Restraint graphic

Restraints, Seclusions Target Students With Autism, New Report Shows

Children with autism were the most frequently subjected to restraint or seclusion in Connecticut schools in the 2012-13 school year, according to a new state report that tallied more than 33,000 incidents of physical restraint or seclusion in public schools and private special education programs.

The report from the state Department of Education shows that autism was the primary disability among special education students subject to “emergency” restraint or seclusion, with 40.4 percent of all such incidents involving a child with autism. Autism also accounted for nearly half of all cases in which children were put in seclusion as part of their individualized education plans, or IEPs. The report shows a slight decline from the previous year in the overall number of students restrained or secluded, and a drop in reports of injuries – from 840 in 2011-12, to 378 last year. But the number of serious injuries rose from eight to 10, and more than 900 reported episodes of seclusion or restraint lasted more than an hour. “This is just so disheartening,” said Shannon Knall of Simsbury, policy chair of the Connecticut chapter of Autism Speaks, an advocacy group.

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