Creative Written Work
Many children entering early childhood education programs have symptoms of autism spectrum disorder yet remain undiagnosed. Research suggests this is especially true for low-income and minority children who may not participate in regular pediatric check-ups, have parents with low health literacy, or who may experience provider bias. Thus, they are diagnosed at a later age compared to upper-class White children. Early autism-specific intervention services can have a profound and lasting impact on long-term developmental outcomes for children with autism. Identification of the symptoms of autism is key to triggering the autism evaluation process that leads to a formal autism diagnosis and autism-specific early intervention services. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) endorses the use of the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” developmental milestone tracking tool to increase autism awareness and improve autism screening and evaluation rates in underserved communities. Studies funded through MCHB have found that increasing early educator and parent knowledge of normal developmental milestones and the signs and symptoms of autism increases self-efficacy in conveying developmental concerns to a healthcare provider, health ambassador, or an educational administrator.
Ellington, Tamara L., "Improving Early Autism Diagnosis in Underserved Communities Through the Use of “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Developmental Milestone Tracking Tool" (2021). Graduate Publications and Other Selected Works - Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Available for download on Saturday, February 19, 2022