What is screening?
Autism screening is the use of a standardized assessment tool designed to identify children at risk of an autism spectrum disorder (Johnson, et al: Identification and Evaluation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2007). Autism screening identifies children in need of further evaluation, enabling early intervention.
Research has shown that early identification of autism spectrum disorders can lead to improved outcomes for children diagnosed before the age of three. Yet, the average age of diagnosis is between three to six years of age. (Pinto-Martin, et al: Screening Strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Pediatric Primary Care, 2008).
Given our limited time and resources in primary care, there are understandable reservations about adding yet another step to well child visits. However, autism screening ends up saving us time and improves the care we provide.