Just 39% of Toddlers Who Fail ASD Screening Are Referred for Further Evaluation

June 01, 2021

Pediatricians More Likely to Act When Parents Express Concerns

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics has found that many pediatricians are not referring toddlers who failed autism screenings for additional evaluation services. In fact, only 39% of toddlers who failed a screening looking for signs of autism were then referred on to experts. The study’s lead author stated that the absence of follow-through by pediatricians was most often due to a lack of trust in screening results. However, if a toddler failed an autism screening and also had parents who expressed developmental concerns, pediatricians were far more likely to refer the child for additional evaluations. The study’s research team came to these conclusions by accessing a network of 203 pediatricians who screened more than 59,400 toddlers at their 12-, 18- and 24-month check ups. Parents were also involved in the study and completed a questionnaire about their child’s use of eye contact, words, gestures and other forms of communication. Pediatricians were asked to indicate if they were referring toddlers for further evaluation and, if not, why not. In the end, nearly 900 children had failed the autism screening and received additional evaluation. More than 400 of these kids were ultimately diagnosed with autism. Approximately 60% of these children were assessed at their 12-month well-baby visits and received a complete evaluation, diagnosis and treatment referral by 15 months.  In the end, this study’s message is clear. For the best outcome, parents must speak up about any concerns they have about their child’s development to their pediatrician.

Original Article

Original Study 

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