Allied healthcare providers' role in screening for autism spectrum disorders
Self, Trisha L.
Coufal, Kathy L.
Parham, Douglas F.
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Journal of allied health. 2010 Fall; 39(3): 165-74.
There is evidence documenting that children are not being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) early enough. This study surveyed allied healthcare providers to determine whether these professionals had received training on the characteristics of ASD and ASD-specific screening strategies through their pre-professional education or continuing education (CE). Additionally, participants were asked about their responsibility for screening children for ASD in their workplace and what would help them be better prepared to perform this type of screening. As a group, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and occupational therapists (OTs) reported receiving more training on the characteristics of ASD and screening for ASD in both their pre-professional education and CE workshops than reported by the physical therapists (PTs) and physicians assistants (PAs). Overall, the SLPS, OTs, and PTs had attended more CE trainings to gain information on ASD than had PAs. All groups expressed an interest in receiving more information on ASD via on- or off-site trainings. These results provide initial support for allied healthcare providers to become more active in screening and referring children who present with symptoms of ASD. The study also highlights the need for educational institutions to provide future healthcare professionals with the skills to provide appropriate early identification services for children and families.
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