Dissemination of multi-stage screening to underserved culturally-diverse families
University of Massachusetts, Boston
Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowship
Although there have been many efforts to identify children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the first years of life, children from ethnic minority groups are still diagnosed later, are less likely to be diagnosed, and have more limited access to proper services. This is of great concern because early identification provides the opportunity for children to benefit from early intervention (EI). This project involves working with pediatricians and early intervention providers to improve their skills to identify children with ASD early enough to benefit from EI services. The particular focus on Latino families is based on their growing numbers and the multiple barriers they face. The aims will be accomplished with the following activities: 1) interviewing parents and providers to identify barriers for early screening; 2) adapting screening tools to use with Latino families; 3) using screening practices that take cultural factors into account; and 4) determining the percentage of families that complete the screening across racial and ethnic groups. The first step of the research is to interview parents and providers to identify screening barriers. During the second stage of the study we will implement a protocol for screening children with ASD in EI and pediatric settings. The final stage will involve interviews of providers to learn about their experiences with the use of this protocol. This research promises to enhance the services provided to these children and improve providers? skills in identifying children with ASD. Results from the study should also help in reducing the differences by race and ethnicity that exists in identifying and treating children with ASD.