Report to Congress
on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities
FY 2014 - FY 2018
Average Time between Screening, Diagnosis, and Intervention
This section addresses section (F) of 399DD: "Information on the average time between initial screening and then diagnosis or rule out for individuals with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities, as well as information on the average time between diagnosis and evidence-based intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities and, as appropriate, on how such average time varies across population subgroups." Information on the average time between screening, diagnosis, and intervention for individuals with ASD is provided by the CDC.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Before an ASD evaluation can be conducted on a child, someone must express concern about that child's development. In the 2018 ADDM Network report, there was documentation of concerns about development by age 36 months for 85 percent of the children identified with ASD; however, only 41.9 percent of all children identified with ASD and 48.3 percent of children with ASD and documentation of concerns about development by age 36 months received a first developmental evaluation by age 36 months. Notably, this has not changed significantly from the 2016 ADDM Network report data where 42.8% of children identified with ASD had a first evaluation by age 36 months. Tracking the age at first developmental evaluation is important because services can begin immediately to address the specific impairments identified in a comprehensive evaluation, even before a diagnosis of ASD is made. Data from the ADDM Network are used to evaluate progress toward the HP2020 goal of increasing the proportion of children with ASD having a first evaluation by 36 months of age. In addition, for the children who had a documented diagnosis of ASD by a community provider (69.3% of all children who met the ADDM Network ASD case criteria), the median age of ASD diagnosis was 4 years, 4 months. Together, these data indicate that work is still needed to close the gap between age of concern and subsequent ages at first developmental evaluation and ASD diagnosis, suggesting a significant delay between evidence of concerns and diagnosis. Although the ADDM Network does not currently collect data on developmental screening, the establishment of the Early ADDM Network in 2010 will further enhance our understanding of the early developmental concerns and a child's path to diagnosis. In an effort to address delay in diagnosis of ASD and other DD and to promote early intervention, CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program continues to work to improve early identification of ASD and other DD, and to enhance communication and coordination among state and local systems providing services to children with developmental delays.