Arizona group helps parents find out if their children have autism

An Arizona group is helping families with free screenings for kids they think may have autism.
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:59 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 7:00 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Did you know one in every 40 Arizona children has autism? It’s extremely common but can be hard to diagnose. An Arizona group is hoping to help speed up the diagnosis for parents to get their kids the help they need.

Olivia Koenen says her son Remi started to show signs of autism in the first year of his life. “He wasn’t responding to sounds, even if I called his name he wouldn’t respond,” Olivia said.

At the time, she didn’t know if something was wrong. By the time Remi turned 2 years old, he stopped speaking and Olivia was worried he was losing his hearing. “Took him to a developmental pediatrician, a psychologist and we were told there might be something going on but we’re not sure,” Olivia said.

She waited months for an official diagnosis. “We were on several waitlists in the valley that were a year, year plus,” said Olivia.

She founded Axis For Autism, a group that provides expedited behavioral evaluations for kids who may have autism. They also offer free autism screenings for families who think their child might be showing signs of autism. “Historically there has been a very long wait for this type of evaluation which unfortunately delays important services so our goal is to really cut that wait time down quite a bit,” said Dr. Morgan Hall with Axis For Autism.

Remi is now 5 years old and his mom says he’s made progress thanks to therapy. And with an official diagnosis, he can get additional help, which may otherwise not have access to. “It was really hard to move forward with a lot of those services when they weren’t sure if there was a need for a diagnosis,” Olivia said. “As far as long-term outcomes are concerned, it’s really best to go ahead and get this identified and start getting assistance as fast as possible,” said Dr. Hall. For more information, click/tap here.