It May Be the Most Important Test of a Child’s Life. Most Aren’t Getting It

California Health Report  •  Jan 12, 2021

Alionka Hernandez had a nagging feeling something was wrong with her 1-year-old son, Diego.

There was his all-too-frequent smile, the way he was so quiet, and how he had spoken “mama” and “papa” at six months of age — and then stopped speaking altogether a few months later.

Time and again, Diego’s doctor dismissed Hernandez’ concerns. But by the time Diego went in for his 20-month check-up, the Oakland woman was done hearing he was just fine. In tears after that appointment, she begged a nurse at the reception desk to see a different doctor. The sympathetic nurse handed her a bag with programs and pamphlets, including one for a developmental screening and referral program called “Help Me Grow.”

Hernandez called.

Three months later, doctors at the Regional Center of the East Bay (where Help Me Grow had referred her) had diagnosed Diego with autism. Hernandez was in shock and not even clear what autism was, but she also felt intense relief.

Read the rest of the story in California Health Report.

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