Although it is still very unclear as to what exactly causes autism, recent research has begun to show that family members of children with autism often have developmental delays as well. Nearly 50% of the time, siblings of children with autism show some form of slower development. Researchers have also found that one out of every five siblings of children with autism will also develop some form of autism sometime in their lives.
This research shows scientists the importance of screen siblings of children with autism early on so as to find the disorder quickly and begin treatment as soon as possible. Studies have proved that in some cases of autism, early diagnosis and treatment in children can be the difference between the child growing into a completely independent adult, or needing lifelong care or assistance.
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Communities in Canada are experiencing huge outbreaks of the measles, a completely preventable and highly contagious infection. The reason that the measles seems to be spreading across the country seems to be due to the fact that Canadian public schools do not require their students to have all of their vaccines and immunizations. The immunization rate of British Columbia is around 65% in schools, while the country as a whole averages 85%, still 10 percent less than the minimum needed to prevent harmful diseases.
One of the reasons that parents reject safe, protective immunizations is because they believe that they can cause autism. This idea stems from a 1998 article published in the British medical journal The Lancet,which claimed that a link had been uncovered between the measles/mumps vaccine and autism. The report was then backed by endorsements by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, and created a steep decline in immunization rates worldwide. Countless studies have been conducted since that have proved that immunizing children does not lead to autism development in later years.
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Lawmakers in Kansas have recently proposed a bill that will make it mandatory for insurance companies to cover children with autism under current insurance plans. Advocates for the bill have been pressing for a proposal similar to the Kansas bill for years, but are not completely satisfied with the bill as it stands now. The problem lays within the amount of coverage offered for children with autism. The current prescribed treatment for autism is known as applied behavior analysis (ABA), and typically costs families around $60,000/year out of pocket. The proposed bill would cover 10 hours of ABA under Kansas insurance plans. Autism advocates say that the bill needs to cover 40.
Michael Wasmer, associate director of state government affairs for the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says that the bill is like partially treating a problem. He says that “we’re not going to be happy if your child is prescribed a certain dose of antibiotic, and they only get half of it. We’re not going to be happy if your child breaks his arm, but they only partly fix it.” If the bill passes, it will be another step towards the right direction in the way children with autism are treated legally in the United States.
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Researchers at the University of Nebraska Omaha have been working to help identify babies who are showing early signs of autism spectrum disorder. They look for missed developmental milestones, such as an inability to track objects with their eyes, the ability to sit upright, or responding to parents’ voices. Children as young as four months are now being tested for autism disorder. Early tests have been proven to be critical for a healthier life for both parent and child.
Even though this is a great step towards creating a healthier life for children with autism in Nebraska, the state still remains as one of just 17 in the United States that does not require insurance companies to cover medical care for children with autism. The state currently has a bill in the process of being passed in congress titled LB 505 that would rectify the situation.
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