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AAP Statement on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Final Recommendation Statement on Autism Screening

American Academy of Pediatrics     (AAP)


February, 16 2016

By: Benard Dreyer, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees with the call from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for more research on the impact of screening and interventions for children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), especially those in early childhood. This critically important research must be funded so we can learn how to better identify children with ASD early in life, and how to design the most effective interventions and treatments.  

“However, strong evidence already exists on the benefit of formal screening using standardized tools. This type of screening can identify children with significant developmental and behavioral challenges early, when they may benefit most from intervention, as well as those with other developmental difficulties. For screening to be effective, by design it must be applied to all children – not only those who exhibit overt symptoms, or those an individual clinician judges would benefit.  

“The AAP stands behind its recommendation that all children be screened for ASD at ages 18 and 24 months, along with regular developmental surveillance. This recommendation is encapsulated in the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, which serves as the blueprint for well-child visits and coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Health insurance coverage of ASD screening should not be impacted by the USPSTF statement. 

“Research shows that early intervention can considerably improve children’s long-term development and social behaviors. The AAP remains committed to providing its 64,000 member pediatricians with the tools and training they need to appropriately identify children with autism spectrum disorder and refer them to the treatment and services they need.”

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