Autism diagnosis average age four years old, should be two

CHILDREN with autism are not being diagnosed with the disorder until they are about four years old, a report released today has revealed.

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia today has revealed the average age of diagnosis of a child with autism was four years old.

Researchers, including La Trobe University PhD candidate Catherine Bent, said early diagnosis was critical in getting early intervention."

The age at which intervention begins has been associated with improved outcomes, with younger children showing greater gains from intensive early intervention," the report said.

The report also said while research suggested autism could be diagnosed at age two, a review found diagnosis was delayed until three years, on average.

The report also said more children aged six were diagnosed with autism because they were usually entering school at that age.

The report said the number of children with autism had been rising.

In 1999-2000, about 5.1 0-4 year olds in every 10,000 had autism in NSW and 8 in every 10,000 in Western Australia.

Fast forward a few years to 2003-2005, the national prevalence of autism in 0-5 year olds increased from 16.1 to 22 children every 10,000.