Deep Bench: Study shows gaps in Autism therapy access

Published: Apr. 16, 2019 at 2:56 PM CDT
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As a behavior health condition across many communities, autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is becoming increasingly common.

Of the 3.8 million children born in the U.S. in 2018, between 65,000 and 70,000 will meet the diagnostic criteria for autism in 2019.

With autism affecting more families in 2019, more parents will seek resources to help them make difficult decisions regarding their children's treatments and therapy. However, a new nationwide survey of parents of children with autism shows there are many unmet needs.

Dr. Steven Merahn, the chief medical officer for Centria Autism joined NewsChannel 7 at 4's Deep Bench on Tuesday, along with Kayla Schmidt, a mother who has two kids with autism.

Centria Autism is a leading provider for autism therapy. Its approach combines child-centered, evidence-based applied behavior analysis (ABA) with best practices to help children with ASD have the best developmental experience possible and acquire the skills to live independently and succeed in the world on their own terms.

Centria released a new survey that was conducted by Wakefield Research.

According to the study, on average, parents first suspected their child had autism at the age of 2.8 years, but children were not diagnosed until 3.8 years.

Parents reported it taking an average of 8.3 medical visits before their child was officially diagnosed, with more than half of parents (57%) noting that the diagnosis process was difficult and 84% saying it was stressful.

"A lot of parents just don't know where to go or the first step to take in the diagnostic process." Schimidt said.

Dr. Merahn added that the autism care system has a number of pieces to it.

"There's no one, single path, and there's no one, single diagnostic test," he said.

Results also showed a 3-month delay between diagnosis and treatment; meaning, on average there is a 15-month period where a child with ASD could be getting treatment.

To learn more about ASD, ABA therapy or Centria Autism, visit