Autism Awareness Month: Catching Up

Autism Awareness Month: Catching Up

Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services' Infant & Toddler Connection is responding to the increase in requests for screenings and services for families with young children with behaviors that suggest autism or other developmental delays.

Infant and Toddler Connection provides assessments and early intervention services for infants and toddlers (up to age 3) who have a developmental delay or a diagnosis that may lead to developmental delays.

A combination of factors may be the reason for the increase, says Dr. Subarna Dharia, ITC’s Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician. Some families may have put off screening during the pandemic. Others may have not been aware of developmental delays due to limited social interactions during that time.

“We are inundated with so many children with behaviors consistent with autism,” Dr. Dharia said. “We are trying to delineate families that need to pursue diagnostic services [beyond ITC] from children who have had limited experiences in the pandemic. There are certainly many variables. But we have to help families move forward and we have to give support regardless.”

If parents suspect developmental delays, they should discuss their concerns with their pediatrician and reach out to ITC to schedule a screening, said Susan Sigler, Neighborhood and Community Services’ Division Director, Inclusive Support Services. A child can be found eligible for services based on delays or differences. A diagnosis is not required. Once eligible the team will develop an individualized family plan to provide supports and services that promote development and participation in the community.

For information on Fairfax County resources for children with autism, please visit Resources for Children with Autism and Parents