Early Identification of Austism Spectrum Disorder


Hello and welcome to the Early Identification Online Module developed by the National Professional Development Center on ASD.

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As you may already know, the number of children diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically over the past few decades. In 2007, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as 1 out of every 150 children.

This finding was informed by data collected in multiple communities throughout the U.S. in 2006 by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. The study reported an average age of diagnosis at 4-1/2 years of age, with boys being four to five times more likely than girls to have an ASD. While ASD has been found in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, there are unanswered questions about potential racial and ethnic disparities (Cuccaro et al., 1996; Mandell et al., 2009).  Further study may reveal the prevalence to be higher.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the umbrella term used to describe several different conditions.
These include Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). ASD will be used throughout this website and online module.
In the last decade, we have made a great deal of progress in recognizing autism in young children, but there is still a long way to go. Although signs of autism are usually  present by the second birthday and a third of parents cite first concerns about their child’s development prior to the first birthday (De Giacomo, & Fombonne, 1998), clinical diagnoses are not typically made until the fourth year of life or later (Mandell, Novak, & Zubritsky, 2005).  Early identification and treatment are central to positive outcomes for children with autism as they grow and develop ( Rogers, 1996; Smith, Groen, & Wynn, 2000).
Let's improve the important task of early identification of ASD, because the earlier we can recognize the signs, the earlier we can start treatment. 

Before you begin the module, take a Pre-Assessment Quiz