A new study gives a peek into the real lives and struggles of autism families

Posted at 10:30 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 22:30:48-04

LANSING, Mich. — A 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, through Wakefield Research. 1,000 parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ages 10 years or younger, participated in the survey. Findings indicate that much more awareness and education is needed at every step of the process and throughout professional fields related to ASD. Here are some of the key findings:

  • On average, there’s at least a 15-month delay between the time parents first suspected a developmental issue and the onset of treatment. Such delays result in a loss of treatment opportunities that can negatively impact a child’s overall development.
  • When parents sought treatment, 32% were told their child would outgrow it, further delaying access.
  • It took parents an average of 8.3 medical visits before their child was officially diagnosed, with 57% of parents noting that the diagnosis process was difficult and 84% saying it was stressful.
  • Parents are overwhelmingly concerned with stigma and fair treatment. 92% of parents are concerned with how other children treat their child. 84% are concerned about how the public views their child. 80% are concerned with how teachers treat their child.
  • Autism therapy is like having an extra part-time job. On average, parents spend 20 hours per week managing their child’s ASD treatment(s). 86% wish there was a person they could turn to help them coordinate their child’s treatment and care.

“We’ve now heard from parents, loudly and clearly, that navigating the ASD environment and finding the right treatment can be difficult.” said Steven Merahn, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Centria Healthcare. “The treatment of any child with autism should be individualized and holistic. Our team seeks to bring standard-of-care, evidence-based behavioral solutions to families and to help them navigate the ASD care path. Our goal is for every child to have the best developmental experience possible through high-quality ABA therapy and support.”

ABA is the only evidence-based behavioral therapy proven to treat the core symptoms of ASD and to support long-term outcomes. Yet, pediatricians are less likely to recommend ABA therapy than occupational/physical therapy or speech therapy due to lack of familiarity with ABA, often leaving families on their own to figure out the best path forward.

“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 two 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. ABA therapy has been really successful for him. Seeing his progress gives me hope that he’ll be able to reach his goals and do whatever he loves later in life.”

Quick Facts

● 1 in 59 children have autism

● Centria Autism helps parents of children with autism navigate through the complex system of insurance, care and just knowing that they are not alone.

● Centria operates in ten states, over 3,500 experienced and trained staff and services over 2,700 children.

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.

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