By Anne Dachel
Parents in the autism community have long been wary of anything that comes out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For over 20 years this agency has failed to show the least interest in the explosion of neurological/developmental problems plaguing our children.
Every year or two the CDC updates the autism rate affecting a mind-numbing percentage of kids, currently around 2 percent, with no alarm or explanation for why it’s always going up. In fact, officials routinely remind us that they have no evidence that there’s ever been a real increase in the number of children with autism. They conveniently remind us that it’s probably just more better diagnosing and greater awareness. All the powers that be buy into that claim.
Now there’s a new pronouncement from this agency and it begs the question: What are they covering up now?
With little media coverage the CDC, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently moved the goalposts on childhood developmental milestones. Among these changes are things like crawling, walking and talking. Crawling is no longer a milestone, walking has been moved from 12 months to 18 months and talking from 12 months to 15 months.
The CDC defended this new timetable by saying it will improve diagnosing development delays like autism.
One source reported:
In an effort to spot autism and other developmental disorders more quickly, the CDC has changed the major milestones up a little bit. …
Previously, the benchmarks reflected where 50% of children should be with that milestone at that particular time. NOW, the CDC has changed it to reflect where 75% of children should be meeting a certain milestone.
The AAP’s Peter Lipkin assured us, The earlier a child is identified with a developmental delay the better, as treatment as well as learning interventions can begin.
How is waiting till a child is 15 months to be concerned about a lack of language skills going to help doctors identify autism earlier?
This explanation doesn’t make sense to any thinking person and many suspect that the milestones have been extended or eliminated because so many kids simply can’t make them today. A normally developing, healthy child is becoming more and more a rarity.
One professional group isn’t buying the claims of the CDC/APP.
WSBT TV in Mishawaka, IN ran the story, Experts question new guidance for young children; changes may fail to ID problems early.
WSBT anchor: Questions tonight after updated guidance has been issued for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have updated milestones for kids who are learning to walk and talk.
It is the first update in almost 20 years.
The goal is to identify developmental delays early.
Reporter: It's part of the CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." campaign.
But a checklist that's supposed to make it easier to screen kids for delays, is raising questions from a local expert.
The first major changes in almost a decade added checklists for kids ages 15 and 30 months. They now advise 75-percent of all kids should meet these milestones instead of 50 percent.
According to the new guidance, some milestones changed as well. Now, talking should happen at 15 months instead of 12 months, based on the last update.
Babies taking steps on their own has moved to 15 months from 12 months. Crawling was previously considered a milestone at 9 months but now it is not mentioned.
Speech and language pathologists disagree
"The SLP world was up in arms the other day when these recommendations were released,” said Danielle Newcombe, Speech-Language Pathologist.
Newcombe says these new guidelines raise a lot of questions.
"But if you look at different guidelines and different milestones, again, the question just is where is that research and can we find that research and do we have it,” said Newcombe
Since the guidance was updated, Newcombe says she hasn't found any major research to back up these changes.
She's concerned that moving some of the milestones later could make early identification of problems harder.
"That age of acquisition shifting later might result in it being more difficult for us to identify these kids earlier and get them the services that they need earlier,” said Newcombe.
Newcombe stresses that you know better than anyone else if your child is behind, and says that early intervention is key.
"Have dialogue with your pediatrician so that you can, if there are concerns and there is something that warrants services, we can get that child in sooner rather than later so trust your gut,” said Newcombe.
The American Speech Language Hearing Association released a statement today expressing concern to the CDC. It says it'll be conducting a review to make sure these milestones are evidence based.
I’m not sure what ASLHA will find since little the CDC does is actually “evidence based.”
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.