VT-ILEHP Autism Learning Resources

Having a Dialogue with Families prior to and following Autism Screening


  • Listen and hear what concerns the parents share prior to the screening
  • Use the examples of concern parents share in your explanation of the screening for autism that you introduce
  • If parents do not raise any concerns share the value of screening to rule out any developmental concerns or to identify any potential developmental risks
  • Explain the value of early intervention which increases the importance of screening all children




  • Describe the positive behaviors you observed
  • Identify those behaviors you would expect to see at this age that were not observed during screening that require a further look
  • Provide parents with a map of expected developmental milestones and use this to track their child’s difficulties (http://www.autismspeaks.org/whatisit/talking_to_parents_action_kit.php or http://www.CDC.gov/actearly)
  • Remind parents that you are not making a diagnosis, but that the behaviors observed raise ‘red flags’ that require further assessment to determine if a diagnosis of autism is a possibility.
  • Encourage the parents to ask questions and express any additional concerns they have.
  • Reinforce that early intervention can make a real difference for a child & that is why it is so important to follow-up any positive screen with further assessment
  • Have resources available to give to parents to suggest the next steps :
    • Schedule an appointment with a developmental pediatrician, psychologist or child psychiatrist who can do a full assessment for Autism and other developmental delays;
    • Have names and phone numbers available of early intervention programs through the local school district or Children’s Integrated Services Teams;


Last modified July 12 2010 02:07 PM

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