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Policy and Practice Barriers to Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the California Early Intervention System

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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Autism spectrum disorder can be reliably diagnosed prior to age 2, and early, intensive intervention has been found to improve long-term outcomes. Nonetheless, most children with ASD do not receive a diagnosis until after age 3, with even later diagnoses for children from non-white ethnic groups. This study conducted telephone surveys with California Part C early intervention managers regarding policies and practices for early identification and intervention for ASD. Findings indicated that 85% of agencies conduct screening for ASD, but only 39% conduct ASD diagnostic assessments prior to age 3. Recommendations for policy changes to align Part C practices with best practice guidelines are provided.

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The authors would like to acknowledge Christine Rivera for assistance in data collection and Choo Phei Wee for assistance in data analysis. Funding was provided by a grant from First 5 LA (#8587), Early Identification and Intervention—Autism and other Developmental Delays.

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All authors conceived of and designed the study. Author MW and Christine Rivera (see Acknowlegements) collected the data. Authors MW and EH coded the data. Author MW and Choo Phei Wee (see Acknowledgements) analyzed the data. All authors contributed to the first draft and edited the paper.

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Correspondence to Marian E. Williams.

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Williams, M.E., Harley, E.K., Quebles, I. et al. Policy and Practice Barriers to Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the California Early Intervention System. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 3423–3431 (2021).

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