COVID-19 pandemic isolation makes diagnosing autism more difficult

After more than two years of isolation, diagnosing autism is more difficult.

According to the CDC, about one in 44 children have autism spectrum disorder. However, recognizing if a child has it is more of a challenge right now.

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"Because of our current situation with the pandemic, this is something that we’re seeing a lot, is that you’re not around as many kids. You’re not out. Parents don’t have as many examples of children to know, like are they just playing alone because they haven’t had a playmate in two years? Or are they just not interested in other people because they’re very shy and don’t know a lot of people outside of the family?" said Chiara Graver, a behavior analyst with the Cleveland Clinic's Children's Hospital.

Graver said sings of autism spectrum are wide-ranging but can include having limited communication at 18 months old, and lacking certain social skills, such as not making contact.

Graver said if you’re concerned about your child’s behavior, it’s best to talk to their pediatrician who can then refer you to a specialist. She also emphasized the importance of early intervention.

"The early developmental period for any child is very critical and with autism, there is a lot of research which suggests that early intervention is key in kind of addressing some of those difficult and challenging behaviors," she said.