Screening and Referral Practices for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Primary Pediatric Care
RESULTS: Rates of M-CHAT screening were 93% at 18 months and 82% at 24 months. Among 23 514 screens, scores of 648 (3%) were ≥3 (386 at 18 months, 262 at 24 months) among 530 unique children who failed 1 or both screenings. Among screen-failed cases, 18% received a diagnosis of ASD and 59% received ≥1 non-ASD neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosis within the follow-up period. Only 31% of children were referred to a specialist for additional evaluation.
CONCLUSIONS: High rates of ASD-specific screening do not necessarily translate to increases in subsequent referrals for ASD evaluation or ASD diagnoses. Low rates of referrals and/or lack of follow-through on referrals appear to contribute to delays in children’s receipt of ASD diagnoses. Additional education of primary care providers regarding the referral process after a failed ASD screening is warranted.