Telehealth Could Be the Answer for Early Evaluation’s Long Waitlists

October 18, 2021

Tool Could Also Be Used to Conduct Research

Caregivers concerned about their infant’s development are often told to “wait and see” by providers. This delay, in many instances, squanders valuable evaluation, diagnostic, and treatment time. Adding more complications to an already tense situation, many families seeking early evaluations for autism spectrum disorder face long waitlists and are sometimes forced to travel long distances to access a professional with appropriate expertise. These frustrating challenges can result in significant stress for families. It was due to these reasons that a research team investigated the feasibility of recruiting and assessing infants showing early behavioral signs of autism characteristics in the first year of life via telehealth. Their study evaluated 41 infants via telecare. The researchers used a standard set of probes and scored behavior related to social communication, play, imitation and other developmental domains. They discovered that the majority of infants in the study exhibited an elevated likelihood of autism on both parent-reported questionnaires and examiner-rated behavior. Caregivers rated the overall utility of this telehealth trial high. Ultimately, the research team believes their study demonstrated that telehealth can be a valuable tool for improving families’ access to diagnostics and care. They also suggest that it can expand providers’ capacity to conduct studies evaluating possible intervention supports. 

Original Study

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