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Fast Screening for Autism

Fast Screening  for AutismResearchers have announced the development of a five-minute checklist that may help in the early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The tool was developed as part of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health that seeks to change the way pediatricians practice. The study is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

“Beyond this exciting proof of concept, such a screening program would answer parents’ concerns about their child’s possible ASD symptoms earlier and with more confidence than has ever been done before,” noted Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of NIH.

Earlier identification of autism will allow timely treatments that could improve a child’s later development and learning.

Currently, a significant delay often exists between the time parents first report concerns about their child’s behavior and the eventual ASD diagnosis. In some cases children are not definitively diagnosed until well after they’ve started school.

Karen Pierce, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues have led the effort to improve early ASD screening by establishing a pilot network of 137 pediatricians across San Diego County.

After an educational seminar, the pediatricians screened all infants at their 1-year, well-baby check-up using the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist, a brief questionnaire that detects ASD, language delay, and developmental delay.

In the questionnaire, parents or caregivers are asked about a child’s use of eye gaze, sounds, words, gestures, objects and other forms of age-appropriate communication. Any child who failed the screen is referred for further testing and was re-evaluated every six months until age 3.

Nearly 10,500 infants were screened with an accurate diagnosis achieved 75 percent of the time.

Following the screen, all toddlers diagnosed with ASD or developmental delay and 89 percent of those with language delay were referred for behavioral therapy.

“In the context of a virtual lack of universal screening at 12 months, this program is one that could be adopted by any pediatric office, at virtually no cost, and can aid in the identification of children with true developmental delays,” said Pierce.

Source: National Institutes of Health

Fast Screening for Autism

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Fast Screening for Autism. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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