Seeing asd signs? Speak up: SLPs are uniquely positioned to recognize the earliest signs of autism spectrum disorder and to guide caregivers through an often-difficult diagnostic journey

Megan Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

During speech-language pathologist Jamie’s first visit with 24-month-old Victor, she notices that he isn’t making eye contact, doesn’t communicate very often, and immerses himself in lining up toy cars on the carpet. Jamie knows these are signs of autism, but she also knows that his initial evaluation report didn’t mention autism spectrum disorder (ASD), only that he had significant language delays. One day, Victor’s mother asks why his language is delayed. Though Jamie suspects ASD, she balks at using the panic-inducing word too early with families. So she says there are many reasons for language delay, but right now it’s important to focus on helping Jamie. A year later, Victor receives a diagnosis of ASD from a multi-disciplinary diagnostic team. Victor’s mother has trouble accepting the diagnosis. She knows that he has trouble talking, but he enjoys giving hugs and playing with his older sister. He can’t have autism! Talking with his mother, Jamie says she believes the diagnosis is accurate because she has seen signs of ASD in Victor. His mother is surprised that Jamie never discussed these concerns with her. What is the result of Jamie not discussing signs of ASD with Victor’s mother? His diagnosis is delayed by a year, which also delays his access to a host of ASD-specific treatments, from pivotal response treatment (PRT) to applied behavior analysis (ABA) to Floortime to, of course, intensive speech-language treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages46-55
Number of pages10
Volume24
No4
Specialist publicationASHA Leader
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing

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