University of Arizona LEND Trainees Reach Out

November 26, 2012

Trainees at the University of Arizona LEND are participating in a research project focused on increasing the systematic developmental screening in early childhood, consistent with AAP surveillance and screening guidelines.[1]  The project will implement a general pediatric screening tool at 9, 18, 24 months and an autism-specific screening tool at 18 and 24 months. Some of the goals of the project include: 

  1. Increase the number of timely developmental screenings conducted on children age birth to 24 months in Arizona in communities with underserved populations.
  2. Decrease time to diagnosis for children birth to 36 months at high risk for ASDs by providing an intermediate referral physician source in communities with underserved populations.
  3. Increase the number of appropriate referrals for full autism screening and early intervention services in communities with underserved populations. 

Fourteen LEND trainees are grouped into teams and each team is working with a rural community health center to implement developmental screening process in each clinic site.  As part of the project, the teams have reviewed clinical processes, made suggestions for how the program might be implemented and have trained staff and providers on developmental screening tools. In the spring, they will return to each clinic and will abstract medical records to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. 

The teams are working with three community health centers in communities on the Arizona-Mexico border (west to east on map: San Luis, Nogales, Douglas).  Each team has visited the clinic sites and has been welcomed by staff members in the clinics.  Clinic staff have shared the challenges of working on the border and have discussed with the LEND trainees and faculty how they are able to function successfully as a community health center. Each of the sites faces challenges of poverty, a migrant population and limited healthcare resources.  The teams were able to discuss these issues with clinicians and administrators to appreciate each health center's mission, priorities, resources and community.

[1] American Academy of Pediatrics, Identifying Infants and Young Children with Developmental Disorders in the Medical Home: An Algorithm for Developmental Surveillance and Screening, Pediatrics,2006; 118; 405