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A service for global professionals · Sunday, June 23, 2024 · 722,232,513 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

Major Increases in Autism and IDD Diagnoses Lead to Dangerous Gaps in Healthcare Services

With more children being diagnosed with autism and IDD, modern healthcare education leaves physicians ill-equipped to provide proper care.

Learning about the early signs and symptoms of autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities is an important step in increasing early interventions and improving health outcomes.”
— Dr. Craig Escudé, President of IntellectAbility
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA, USA, June 10, 2024 / -- As autism and intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) diagnoses climb to historic highs, health professionals are struggling to meet the unique healthcare needs of this growing population.

According to a newly published report, growth in autism and developmental disability services has increased by a staggering 49% year-over-year. Published by CentralReach, the report encompasses more than 3 billion anonymized clinical and financial data points. It includes aggregated data from 1,000 therapy providers offering applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech therapy, occupational therapy, and related services. (1)

The report findings coincide with new data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which indicates that 1 in 36 children are now identified with autism spectrum disorder, a drastic increase from 1 in 44 children in 2018. The CDC further found that 1 in 6 children aged 3 to 17 are now diagnosed with a developmental disability. (2)

Despite this increase, there continues to be a significant lack of training on how to properly care for individuals with disabilities. According to a recent address to the United Nations as part of the World Down Syndrome Day 2024 Conference, Dr. Rick Rader shared that there are currently 1.4 million medical students worldwide who undergo 8 to 15 years of training to become a doctor. In that time, there is typically no formal, required, compulsory, or mandated curriculum to put students and patients with disabilities together. The skills, experience, and confidence that students acquire from treating patients with complex needs transfers to every patient, every family, and every community, benefiting everyone, including patients with disabilities. (3)

The growing demand for skilled caregivers has created a demand for significant improvements in healthcare training to meet the unique needs of individuals with autism and IDD. In 2023, from Q2 to Q4, there was a 428% increase in demand for tools to enable caregiver training. (4)

“Healthcare education has been slow to catch up with the continued rise in diagnoses,” says Dr. Craig Escudé, President of IntellectAbility. “Learning about the early signs and symptoms of autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities is an important step in increasing early interventions and improving health outcomes.”

IntellectAbility’s eLearn course, The Curriculum in IDD Healthcare (CIDDH), aims to address gaps in the delivery of medical care to people with IDD. A newly published study in the peer-reviewed journal Knowledge found that trainees deemed CIDDH very effective. By addressing the unique needs of individuals with IDD, healthcare training programs like CIDDH can reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life among patients with IDD. (5)

“Autism and IDD should never be a barrier to accessing equitable healthcare services,” says Dr. Escudé “Improvements in education can empower caregivers to understand the unique challenges that these individuals face, helping them to better identify the early signs of health destabilization and improve the health and well being of those that they care for.”

IntellectAbility provides tools and training to agencies, governmental entities, and supporters of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to foster early recognition and mitigation of health risks, thereby improving health and wellness. One such tool is the Health Risk Screening Tool (HRST), of which they are the sole developer, producer, and distributor. The web-based HRST is the most widely used and validated health risk screening instrument for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. IntellectAbility also provides numerous health-related and person-centered service training for supporters of people with IDD. With an unrelenting focus, IntellectAbility works to fulfill its mission of improving health and quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other at-risk populations. For more information, visit


Daniel Mutter
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