Nov 23, 2011

Free autism screenings for children

The Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, in partnership with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, offers a free monthly autism spectrum disorder screening for toddlers 18 months to five years of age.

The next screening will be held Nov. 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cape Coral Library, 921 SW 39th Terrace, Cape Coral (rescheduled from Nov. 4)

The following month, a screening will be held on Dec. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Family Health Center, 2256 Heitman Street, Fort Myers.

It is estimated that one in every 150 children is diagnosed with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined, health officials say.

Medical consultants for the project stress that an early diagnosis can make a vast difference for toddlers and their families. They say early intensive behavioral intervention can make an immense difference not just in the development of the child, but in their families as well.

The ASD screening is conducted by the Neurosciences Center at The Children's Hospital, under the guidance of pediatric neurologist Dr. Jose Colon. The screenings are administered by an advanced registered nurse practitioner, who has extensive training and experience in typical child development and developmental disorders.

A physician referral is not required. To schedule a screening, call 239-343-6838.