Title

The Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders: Field-testing an autism-specific screening tool for children 12 to 36 months of age

DOI

10.1177/13623613211012526

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

10-1-2021

Publication Title

Autism : the international journal of research and practice

Volume

25

Issue

7

First Page

2112

Last Page

2123

Keywords

Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders, autism spectrum disorder, field-testing, screening, validation

Abstract

There is a critical need for accurate screening tools for autism spectrum disorder in very young children so families can access tailored intervention services as early as possible. However, there are few screeners designed for children 18-24 months. Developing screeners that pick up on the signs of autism spectrum disorder in very young children has proved even more challenging. In this study, we examined a new autism-specific parent-report screening tool, the Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders for children between 12 and 36 months of age. Field-testing was done in five sites with 471 children screened for communication delays in primary care or referred for familial risk or concern for autism spectrum disorder. The Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders was tested in three age groups: 12-17, 18-23, and 24-36 months. A best-estimate diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay, or typical development was made. Analyses examined all 46 items and identified 30 items that best discriminated autism spectrum disorder from the non-spectrum groups. Cutoffs were established for each age group with good sensitivity and specificity. Results provide preliminary support for the accuracy of the Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders as an autism-specific screener in children 12-36 months with elevated risk of communication delay or autism spectrum disorder.

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