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Early Autism Detection: Screening and Referral

Briefly describe the activity and its purpose.

Developmental screening is the systematic use of a validated tool to identify children at risk of developmental delay. The use of standardized assessment tools is essential in identifying a range of potential diagnoses and providing focused referrals. Early detection is needed because 16-18% of children have delays and/or developmental disabilities and early detection with supports can improve outcomes. LEND trainees begin a semester on diagnosis by first learning to use screening tools. As part of their Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) screening training, LEND trainees complete the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) with a child and his/her family. The M-CHAT is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age to assess their risk for ASD.

What are the expected learning outcomes for trainees?

This activity provides hands-on experience in using developmental screening tools in real time. In addition to learning how to apply this tool, trainees must also communicate the results of the screen to the family. While the "referral" aspect of this training is not needed in the typically developing children who take part in these trainings, toddlers may be flagged on individual items. The trainees must choose whether to provide recommendations based on this training and their previous clinical skills.

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