A team of researchers at Indiana University constructed a successfully-tested statewide early autism diagnosis screening and evaluation system. They published their new findings in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics.
In their recent study, the US-based research team showed success in boosting access to evaluations and decreasing the age of diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among young children.
The study focused on more than 2,000 children associated with the Early Autism Evaluation hubs located in the state of Indiana. In the evaluation. In the not too distant past, Indiana fell behind other areas of the U.S. with regards to the number of children receiving standard developmental screening.
The average age for a diagnosis of autism is generally between ages 4 to 5. The later diagnosis is made, the longer the delay for potential treatment intervention to reduce the severity of symptoms and enhance daily functioning.
According to researchers, 33 percent of the 2,076 children, was diagnosed with autism. The average diagnosis from the hubs was approximately 30 months, considerably earlier in comparison to the national average of 48 months or more. Additionally, the wait-time for screening was significantly less compared to traditional specialty diagnostic centers, which may take several months longer in duration.
“Our findings suggest that developing a tiered system of developmental screening and early ASD evaluation is feasible in a geographic region facing health care access problems. Through targeted delivery of education, outreach, and intensive practice-based training, large numbers of young children at risk for ASD can be identified, referred, and evaluated in the local primary care setting,” wrote Rebecca McNally Keehn, and her colleagues, in the findings.
“The EAE Hub model has potential for dissemination to other states facing similar neurodevelopmental health care system burdens. Implementation lessons learned and key system successes, challenges, and future directions are reviewed.”