Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida recently announced that through early intervention and targeted education in collaboration with several community partners it has seen a significant reduction in the age of autism diagnosis in the children in our communities over the past 18 months.
In July 2017, the average age of children diagnosed with Autism by Easterseals in Volusia and Flagler Counties was 7.9 years old. (The average age of diagnosis across the country is 4.8 years old). From July 1, 2017 through Aug. 31, 2018, due to a targeted effort toward parent and caregiver education, Easterseals Northeast Central Florida saw a decrease in the age of diagnosis to 5.87 years old. Children presenting for diagnosis ranged in age from 18 months - 18 years.
Easterseals is the Help Me Grow Volusia-Flagler affiliate at United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties, the agency to whom the data was reported.
“Early identification and intervention of autism is crucial in order to maximize a child’s development and progress,” said Dorothy Lefford, OTR/L, VP Clinical Services at Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida. “Research shows early intervention makes a big difference to a child’s development leading to improved outcomes for children with autism, including higher intelligence, adaptive skills, and increased social and daily living skills.”
“We are thrilled that our Help Me Grow Volusia-Flagler affiliate at United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties was a part of the effort that helped reduce the age of detection for autism in Volusia county from 7.9 to 5.8 this year,” Help Me Grow Florida posted recently on its Facebook page, adding that “early detection and intervention are key in autism treatment.”
The local leader in autism resources, Easterseals is teaching parents how to incorporate these research-based techniques into homelife and prioritizes educating parents and caregivers. Strategies that the highly recognized Easterseals’ Autism Center of Excellence employs include Autism Early Diagnostic and Functional Assessment Clinic, The PLAY Project (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters), ASK: Autism Strategies Know-How behavior-modification educational clinics, TR-eat® Model (Transdisciplinary Effective Assessment and Treatment) behavior strategies for food aversion, free “ACT Now!” Autism Community Training events that offer CEU opportunities for staff and direct consultation with Easterseals’ autism experts, and more.
Autism Center of Excellence in Daytona Beach and serves more than 500 children annually who have been diagnosed with autism. It’s premier local resource for diagnosis, interventions, resource and referral and case management for children who were referred by their physician for evaluation of autism spectrum disorder.
To learn more about Easterseals’ autism services and its Autism Center of Excellence, visit its webpage or call (386) 944-7833.
Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida serves more than 17,500 individuals and families with a range of disabilities to achieve their full potential. Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida serves the region with facilities in Daytona Beach, DeLand, Bunnell, and Leesburg. To learn more about Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida, please visit www.eastersealsnecfl.org or connect to our online community on Facebook.
Need support in addressing challenging behaviors in children with autism? Just ASK.
Easterseals’ Autism Center of Excellence’s Debbie Neller, OTL/R, is spearheading a program with parents and caregivers in which she provides behavior-modification tactics through ASK: Autism Strategies Know-How. The one-hour program is empowering parents by improving their understanding of autism and increasing their confidence in supporting children on the autism spectrum.
Neller begins each session by explaining what autism is: A neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty with communication and socialization and often displayed with restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. According to statistics by Autism Speaks, autism occurs in 1 in 59 births and is 4-5 times more common in boys.
Common challenging areas for children with autism usually include anything sensory related, such as feeding, toileting, speech and oral or physical hygiene. Throughout each training, Neller encourages parents and caregivers to be astute observers of their children, and to not be afraid to implement new tactics. She recommends five research-supported strategies:
Neller encourages parents and caregivers of children with autism to be patient with themselves and remain hopeful on their journey while she illustrates the many strategies they can employ.
“I remind parents that their child is still the child they know and love and many methods exist to help their child in the most beneficial ways,” said Neller. “The ASK program helps adults understand the mind of a child with autism, while adding tools to the toolbox if and when they are needed.”
“We want these children’s homes to be filled with enthusiasm and laughter,” said Neller. “Empowering parents to be more effective in how interact with their children is an important step toward that reality.”
For more information about ASK or to schedule a presentation, contact Easterseals’ Autism Center of Excellence at 386-255-4568.