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The impact of an early diagnosis

24 March 2021

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Why is it important that children receive a diagnosis as soon as possible?

In Australia, families seeking an autism assessment are often faced with having to choose between waiting 18 months for an assessment through the public system or paying thousands of dollars for a private assessment. Until a child receives a formal diagnosis of autism, they can’t access vital, early childhood services. For six-year-old Jack and his family, an early diagnosis was life-changing.

For parents, a diagnosis means they can receive financial assistance from NDIS, therapy and educational supports for their child. Parents can also access information that helps them better understand autism and what their child is going through now and into the future.

For children like Jack, it is the combination of diagnosis at an early age, early childhood support services and a tailored, autism-specific education that can transform their lives and help them become more independent and engaged in the world around them.

Research shows that when a child receives an early diagnosis, they are more likely to demonstrate improved cognitive, developmental and adaptive functioning, enhanced language and social skills compared to children who are diagnosed later*.

*Missed opportunities: An investigation of pathways to autism diagnosis in Australia - Gibbs, Aldridge, Sburlati, Chandler, Smith, & Cheng, 2019.

But what happens if a family's financial disadvantage puts that diagnosis out of reach?

Early diagnosis should be available to all families, not just the privileged. Unfortunately, for many, the biggest barrier to getting a diagnosis is cost.

“While there is no doubt that appropriate evidence-based, autism-specific support can improve outcomes for Autistic people at any age, the sooner this support commences the better. Starting childhood support early may also prevent the development of secondary characteristics of autism such as challenging behaviours and co-morbid mental health problems like anxiety.” - Trevor Clark – National Director, Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice (ARCAP).

It can make families feel helpless to know that the only thing between their child and access to these specialised services is the cost of an assessment.

You can change that.

You can help children like Jack get the early diagnosis they need to access early childhood support including occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychology.

You can change their futures and give them the tools to lead more independent lives.

Every day counts. Every dollar counts.

For children like Jack, access to an early diagnosis can be life-changing. A monthly, tax-deductible donation can help ensure that families don’t miss out on the vital services they need - it could even protect their education by providing an Aspect school sponsorship.

Every donation from our powerful community of supporters will contribute towards our goal of creating a world where no one on the autism spectrum is left behind.

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