Currently, most pediatricians choose to refer children to a specialist to be diagnosed and treated for behavioral conditions such as autism — often with waitlists of a year to three years. Nationwide, we continue to face an enormous and growing shortage of specialists, so the heartbreaking reality for most children and families is delayed diagnosis and late access to treatments. Today’s standard of care is missing the critical early intervention window when treatments have their greatest impact. 

Pediatricians have not been equipped to diagnose autism and prescribe treatment. Existing diagnostic tools and methods were designed for research purposes and are not practical for primary care clinical settings.

Since our inception, we have been focused on advancing the standard of care for pediatric behavioral health so that every child has the opportunity to get earlier treatment that can change their lifetime trajectory. We believe that the most effective way to accomplish this mission is by empowering the pediatrician – the trusted family physician who knows the child best – with practical solutions to confidently and accurately identify, diagnose and prescribe treatments for behavioral conditions.

We are excited to share that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is aligning with our mission and approach. Today, the AAP announced the first update in 12 years to their Guidelines on Identification of Children with  Autism Spectrum Disorders. The AAP is now encouraging pediatricians to diagnose autism and prescribe earlier treatments, so that children receive interventions earlier when they have the greatest lifelong impact.

The AAP’s clinical report “Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” will be published in the January 2020 Pediatrics, emphasizing the importance of early identification of autism, which can be diagnosed as young as 18 months of age. Cognoa is currently conducting a Pivotal Study to demonstrate the effectiveness of its FDA designated Breakthrough medical device to aid in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in children as young as 18 months of age .

We have always believed early pediatric behavioral health interventions have the greatest potential to impact and improve mental and behavioral health. Currently, there are no FDA cleared solutions to aid in the diagnosis of autism. Cognoa’s digital therapeutics and medicines seek to empower pediatricians to confidently and accurately identify behavioral conditions and developmental delays early in order to prescribe treatments years sooner than today’s standard of care. We look forward to 2020 as Cognoa plans to submit our autism diagnostic aid for FDA review and conducts additional studies of our autism therapeutic. 

— By Sharief Taraman, MD — Chief Medical Officer at Cognoa, Division Chief, Pediatric Neurology at CHOC Childrens, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California-Irvine, dual board-certified in Neurology with special qualifications in Child Neurology from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and Clinical Informatics from the American Board of Preventive Medicine.