Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Early Identification of ASD in Young Children

WWW: Federal Autism Activities: Agencies Are Encouraging Early Identification and Providing Services, and Recent Actions Could Improve Coordination (GAO-16-446) (May 2016) Government Accountability Office - Research has shown that early identification and intervention can greatly improve the development of a child with autism. This GAO report examines: (1) how federal agencies encourage early autism identification and interventions, (2) the intervention services provided by federal education and health care programs, and (3) steps taken by federal agencies to improve research coordination. The GAO believes improved cross-agency coordination is still needed.

The Autism Navigator (posted June 25, 2015) - This collection of web-based resources from the Autism Institute at Florida State University College of Medicine includes free tools for families and others interested in early diagnosis and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder and their families. View this introductory video (4:56 minutes) to learn more. See the free tool, About Autism in Toddlers, for parents and professionals interested in learning how to recognize the early signs of autism spectrum disorder in very young children. The tool includes videos on the core features of autism and information on the importance of early identification. Watch a preview (3:21 minutes) here.

Developmental/Autism Spectrum Disorder Screening Resources (2015) – State Public Health Autism Resource Center (SPHARC) - Resources to assist state Title V Maternal & Child Health Programs (MCH) programs in their efforts to develop and implement effective system-wide developmental screening services, including resources for Title V action planning, a case study of one state's Title V action plan, a scan of federal and national programs that have a specific objective/measure around developmental screening, and a matrix of which states have had grant or technical assistance programs related to developmental and autism screening.

Bringing the Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders Into Focus (2013, runtime 9:03 minutes) - This video from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is meant to improve the recognition of the early signs of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) among pediatricians, parents and early intervention providers. It consists of six video clips that compare toddlers with no signs of ASD to toddlers with early signs of ASD and includes an explanation of how the specific behaviors exhibited by each child are either suggestive of ASD or typical child development.

ATN/AIR-P Guide to Providing Feedback to Families Affected by Autism (2012) - This guide was developed by Autism Speaks to provide health care professionals with resources and instructional support on how to communicate effectively with families receiving a diagnosis of autism for their child. It is important for families to feel supported and empowered to use the information they receive to begin to address their children's needs.

Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders Learning Module (2011) - This module was created by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It comes with videos (including home movies of babies who later develop ASD), case studies and other resources.

Learn the Signs, Act Early - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with national partners, is hosting this public awareness campaign in order to help parents and child care providers learn more about early childhood development, including potential early warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities. Promising Practices for "Learn the Signs, Act Early" provides examples of locally inspired models and ideas that have been carried out and evaluated in programs and communities across the country to spread the reach of the campaign.

WWW: ASD Video Glossary - This video glossary contains hundreds of free, web-based video clips contrasting behaviors that are red flags for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) with behaviors that are typical. It was developed for parents of children suspected of or recently diagnosed with autism and for professionals who do not have experience in diagnosing young children with ASD. It was a collaborative project of:

  • WWW: Autism Speaks - Autism Speaks increases awareness of ASD; funds research into its causes, prevention, treatments and cure; and advocates for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
  • WWW: First Signs, Inc. - This national non-profit organization is dedicated to educating parents and physicians about the early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders. First Signs contains information on Red Flags for Atypical Development, tips on how parents and physicians can share concerns about a child's development, screening tools for autism and Asperger's and physician awareness kits. First Signs is working in a number of WWW: participating states
  • WWW: Florida State University (FSU) Autism Institute - The FSU Autism Institute was established to coordinate and promote research, education and service related to autism spectrum disorders.

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) - This validated developmental screening tool for toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age is available free on-line.

Autism Information from the AAP (updated regularly) - This Web page provides current information and resources on autism from the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Children with Disabilities.

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P120002 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

  • FPG Child Development Institute
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