Promoting Awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Resources to Diverse Stakeholders in Rural Hawaii: a Community Based Approach

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2016-12-07
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Tostenson, Lisa
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Davis, Alice
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Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental brain disorders with a wide range of individual symptom and impairment expressions from mild to severely disabling. Data from 2010 indicated one in 68 children have an autism spectrum disorder (CDC 2014). An updated surveillance report confirms incidence rates have remained the same (Christensen, Baio, Braun, et al, 2016). Morrier, Hess, & Heflin (2008) found that Native Hawaiians and multiracial children are under-identified with ASD 99% of the time. Many people associate ASD with severe repetitive behaviors such as hand flapping or significant communication problems and unfortunately disregard other subtle cues. Mandell, Ittenbach, Levy, and Pinto-Martin (2007) found a high prevalence of initial incorrect diagnosis in children with ASD prior to eventual correct diagnosis. Research has confirmed that diagnosis of children as young as two years old is reliable, valid, and stable, yet most children are not diagnosed until age four or older (Lord et al., 2006; CDC, 2015). Early intervention has been shown to be the most effective means of improving a child’s development and functional status, however intervention at any age is beneficial. Incorrect and under-diagnosis contributes to under use of intervention services that results in negative impact on IQ, functional ability, and adult productivity. Current research is focused on finding the earliest signs of autism as early intervention may prevent disabling ASD behavior expression (NIMH, 2012). However, this research may be ineffective without consistent early childhood screening and evidence-based (EB) interventions.
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Autism, Awareness
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