Treatment for Children with Autism Delayed by More Than One Year on Average, New Survey Reveals

Source: News

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich., April 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — A nationwide survey of 1,000 parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ages 10 years or younger found that on average, there is at least a 15-month delay between the time parents first suspected a developmental issue and the onset of treatment. Such delays result in lost treatment opportunity which can negatively impact a child’s overall development.1 Shockingly, when 32% of parents sought treatment, they were told their child would outgrow it, further delaying access to instrumental treatment. The nationwide survey was commissioned by Centria Autism, a leading provider of therapy based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for children with ASD, and was conducted by Wakefield Research.2

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“In speaking with hundreds of families dealing with ASD, we’ve heard loud and clear that navigating the ASD environment, and especially finding right treatment to meet the specific needs of their child, can be difficult.” said Steven Merahn, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Centria Healthcare. “The treatment of any child with autism should be individualized and wholistic. Our team seeks to bring standard-of-care, evidence-based behavioral solutions to families and help individuals navigate the ASD care path to ensure every child has the best developmental experience possible and can achieve their goals and dreams through high-quality ABA therapy and support.”

ASD is an urgent public health priority in the U.S. As of 2018, an estimated 1 in 59 children have been identified with ASD.3 Of the 3.8 million children born in the U.S. in 2017, between 65,000 and 70,000 are expected to meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD in 2019.4 

The inaugural survey, called the Centria Autism Barometer, also exposed unmet needs in providing evidence-based approaches and treatment for children with ASD, parental concern surrounding how others view their child, and the impact on a parent’s career and personal life. Additional key findings include:

  • Eight medical visits to diagnose: Parents reported 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. 
  • Overwhelming concern on how society treats & views ASD children: 92% of parents who have children with ASD are concerned with how other children treat their child. 84% are concerned about how the public views their child, and 80% are concerned with how teachers treat their child.
  • Autism therapy is like having an extra part-time job for parents: On average, parents spend 20 hours a week on their child’s ASD treatment, and 86% wish there was a person they could turn to help them coordinate their child’s treatment and care. 

“As a parent of two young children with autism, I was in deep denial when my first child, Jacob, started presenting symptoms. I didn’t know what to do or what services to use to get him treated,” said Kayla Schmidt, a parent of children with autism. “Thankfully, I was connected to Centria Autism within a couple weeks, and they’ve been tremendously helpful in providing Jacob a personalized plan to help him learn and develop based on his own needs. ABA therapy has been very successful for him. Seeing his progress gives me great hope that he will be able to reach his goals and do what he loves later in life.”

To learn more about the Centria Autism Barometer findings, ASD, ABA therapy, or the services Centria Autism provides, visit

About Centria Autism
Centria Autism, an operating division of Centria Healthcare, is a leading national provider of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism and their families. With its national headquarters in Michigan, and more than 3,500 clinical staff working in ten states, Centria’s Optimal Outcomes approach combines child-centered, evidence-based 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

About ABA Therapy
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is the standard-of-care, preferred treatment for ASD, and is the only evidence-based behavioral therapy proven to treat the core symptoms of ASD or ASD-related disabilities and to support long-term outcomes. ABA therapy can be adapted to meet the needs of each unique person and breaks down everyday tasks into easy-to-follow steps, using positive reinforcement and repetition. Yet, pediatricians are less likely to recommend ABA therapy (69%) than occupational/physical therapy (88%) or speech therapy (90%) due to lack of familiarity with ABA and the requirements for the treatment plan.5 Prescribing just occupational, physical, or speech therapy only addresses specific components of a child’s treatment needs instead of addressing the whole child, which could have an impact on the child’s treatment progress because the therapy is incomplete. Furthermore, based on the survey, parents whose children receive ABA therapy are more likely than other parents to say their child has made a lot of progress (53% vs. 45%).

Media Contact:
Lisa Croff, Centria Autism
O: 248-364-4400 Ext. 4494
C: 248-378-7540

Mary Coyle, Porter Novelli
O: 212-601-8296 
C: 917-975-6615

1 Baio J, Wiggins L, Christensen DL, et al. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2014. MMWR Surveill Sums. 2018;67(6):1-23. (CDC prevalence estimates are for 4 years prior to the report date.)
2 The Centria Autism Survey was conducted online by Wakefield Research among 1,000 parents of children 10 and younger with Autism Spectrum Disorder between February 28 and March 14, 2019. The margin of error was +/- 3.1%.
3 “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Nov. 2018,
4 “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Nov. 2018,
5 MedPanel U.S. Pediatrician ABA Survey Final Report. April 24, 2018.

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