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Your Healthy Family: Pandemic has made Autism more difficult to diagnose

Posted at 8:03 AM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 08:03:43-04

April is Autism Awareness Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in 44 kids has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctors have said the pandemic has made Autism more difficult to diagnose.

Chiara Graver, a Behavior Analyst with Cleveland Clinic Children's, said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more isolation.

"You’re not around as many kids. You’re not out. Parents don’t have as many examples of children to know, are they just playing alone because they haven’t had a playmate in two years, or are they just not interested in other people because they’re very shy and don’t know a lot of people outside of the family," she said.

Graver said signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder are wide ranging, but can include a child not responding to their name, having limited communication at 18 months old and lacking certain social skills, like not making eye contact. Right now, there is no cure for Autism, but there are treatment options.

Graver said if you’re concerned about your child’s behavior, it’s best to talk to their pediatrician who can then refer you to a specialist. She said early intervention is key.

“The early developmental period for any child is very critical and with Autism. There is a lot of research which suggests that early intervention is key in kind of addressing some of those difficult and challenging behaviors," she said.

She added that researchers are still trying to determine what causes Autism, but they believe it’s linked to both genetic and environmental factors.