Act Early Autism Project: The Feasibility of an Early Pathway to Care for Toddlers at Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Act Early Autism Project created and assessed an early pathway to care for toddlers whose parents had informed concerns about their development

By Robin Gaines, Yolanda Korneluk, Danielle Quigley, Abigail D. Delehanty, Laurie A. Vismara


The three-step pathway included -

(1) reliable education provided to the broad Ottawa community about recognizing early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder,

(2) an invitation to a responsive two-level screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder, and

(3) the provision of an in-home parent-mediated intervention for those positively identified at risk.

This paper describes our evaluation of the pathway feasibility as 15 toddlers progressed to early intervention within 1 year. Parents used a first level paper screening tool to report their concerns to knowledgeable professionals about their toddlers’ development and to identify risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Professionals then provided second level observational screening to obtain more detailed information about the skills and behaviours of those toddlers identified as high risk at first level screening.

A 12-week parent-mediated intervention followed positive second level screening. Pre- and post-standardized parent report measures revealed changes in child behaviours during and immediately following the intervention. Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule results following the study supported the Act Early Autism Project pathway to care as they provided a confirming diagnosis for all children who completed the pathway. Finally, parent perspectives of the pathway were elicited and are discussed.

Go to:

share your information  Cartoon © Martina Jirankova-Limbrick 2011