OTARC PhD Research Candidate Cathy Bent used data from the national Helping Children with Autism Package to examine the age of diagnosis of 15,000 children aged under 7 years.
‘The statistics showed across Australia the average age of diagnosis for children with autism, who are younger than 7, is about 4 years of age; that less than 3% of children are diagnosed by 24 months; and the most frequently reported age of diagnosis is close to 6 years.
‘We know that the earlier we can diagnosis a child, the quicker we can link them and their parents with vital intervention and support. The younger this happens the better, as a baby and toddler’s brain is at its most receptive to this type of therapy and behavioural change,’ Ms Bent said.
‘This information will be critical in helping us push for changes in health policy to make it easier for families to get a diagnosis and access support. We would also like to streamline this process nationally as there are marked variances in ages of diagnosis across the country,’ Ms Bent said.
Read how you can help us understand your family’s experience with diagnosis.