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Project: Autism Spectrum Disorder: Early Identification and Diagnosis Workshop

Centre for Leadership in Child Development

Project: Autism Spectrum Disorder: Early Identification and Diagnosis Workshop


What was this study about?

The purpose of this workshop was to enhance the diagnostic skills of general paediatricians for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The workshop targeted four areas of the diagnostic process:

1) Determining whether the diagnosis of ASD fits with the child’s strengths and challenges using a thorough history and interaction/observation with the family and child;

2) Communicating the diagnosis to the family in a clear and sensitive way;

3) Arranging for all available resources for the family after the diagnosis; and

4) Using appropriate billing and efficient practice management strategies.

What did we do?

We designed and hosted a workshop for paediatricians that occurred March 7, 2015.

There were twenty-five available spots for registration; the workshop had sold out with a full waiting list within five days of being offered.

Impact for clients, families and clinical practice

Providing this training for paediatricians practicing in the community will hopefully allow more children with ASD to be diagnosed in this setting.

This will benefit these children by allowing them earlier access to critically important interventions, as well as reducing the wait time for assessment at tertiary care centres like Holland Bloorview.

What did we learn?

  • All attendees who completed the post-workshop survey rated the event as either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very good’, except for one individual who did not rate the event
  • Achievement of the workshop learning objectives were rated as follows (all objectives were rated as either fully or partially achieved):
    • Identify community physician role in the diagnosis of ASD, which children to diagnose, and the essential elements of a diagnostic assessment
      • 10 respondents felt that this objective was achieved
    • Communicate a diagnosis of ASD to families (having practiced this skills during a patient simulation session)
      • 9 respondents felt that this objective was achieved
    • Comprehensively and efficiently connect families to community services, including interventions, family support and other referrals
      • 9 respondents felt that this objective was achieved
    • Use efficient methods for assessment with appropriate billing codes
      • 7 respondents felt that this objective was achieved

Next steps

We plan to continue our relationship with workshop attendees by offering monthly mentorship meetings. These will allow participants to contact us with questions they have encountered when assessing patients with suspected ASD.

We have planned a program evaluation that includes a survey of all participants six months after the workshop, as well as more in-depth interviews with participants showing the most and least practice change. We hope to incorporate results of the program evaluation into future offerings of the workshop, as well as to promote this as an educational model.