Autism dilemma needs more attention

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The dilemma featured in J.K. Wall’s April 25 article “Parents of autistic children gird for showdown with Anthem” is one we are likely to hear about more as the prevalence of autism increases much faster than our understanding of its causes.

Over the last two decades hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to discover the cause of this neurodevelopmental disorder.

With nearly one in 68 school-aged children identified on the autism spectrum (an increase from one in 200 just a decade ago), we still know little about the causes.

We have learned that behaviorally focused treatments consistently increase skill acquisition and symptom management, especially at an early age. However, these treatments are provided to only a segment of the population, and insurance companies struggle with standards and funding decisions related to treatment in young children.

Funding for research to find the cause should continue, but immediate (and often dramatic) relief is found primarily through early intervention and intensive treatment.

Dr. Jim Dalton, president, CEO, Damar Services

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