Having a Dialogue with Families prior to and following Autism Screening

Prior to Screening

Listen and hear what concerns the parents share prior to the screening.

Use the examples of concern parents share in your explanation of the screening for autism that you introduce.

If parents do not raise any concerns share the value of screening to rule out any developmental concerns or to identify any potential developmental risks.

Explain the value of early intervention which increases the importance of screening all children.

Following Screening

Describe the positive behaviors you observed.

Identify those behaviors you would expect to see at this age that were not observed during screening that require a further look.

Provide parents with a map of expected developmental milestones (available here or here) and use this to track their child’s difficulties.

Remind parents that you are not making a diagnosis, but that the behaviors observed raise ‘red flags’ that require further assessment to determine if a diagnosis of autism is a possibility.

Encourage the parents to ask questions and express any additional concerns they have.

Reinforce that early intervention can make a real difference for a child & that is why it is so important to follow-up any positive screen with further assessment.

Have resources available to give to parents to suggest the next steps:

  • Schedule an appointment with a developmental pediatrician, psychologist or child psychiatrist who can do a full assessment for Autism and other developmental delays
  • Have names and phone numbers available of early intervention programs through the local school district or Children’s Integrated Services Teams