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Early detection of young children at risk of autism spectrum disorder at well-baby clinics in the Netherlands: Perspectives of preventive care physicians.

Authors
  • Snijder, Michelle Ij1, 2
  • Kaijadoe, Shireen Pt1
  • van 't Hof, Maarten3, 4
  • Ester, Wietske A3, 4, 5
  • Buitelaar, Jan K1, 2
  • Oosterling, Iris J1
  • 1 Karakter Child and Adolescent Psychiatry University Centre, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 2 Radboudumc, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 3 Lucertis Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 4 Parnassia Psychiatric Institute, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 5 Leiden University, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Autism : the international journal of research and practice
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2021
Volume
25
Issue
7
Pages
2012–2024
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/13623613211009345
PMID: 33884893
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

To improve early detection of autism spectrum disorder in preventive care, a Dutch guideline was developed 5 years ago. The guideline provides preventive care physicians at well-baby clinics action-oriented advice and describes a step-by-step approach for children identified at an increased risk for autism spectrum disorder during general healthcare surveillance. The present qualitative study evaluated adherence to the guideline and studied barriers regarding early detection of autism spectrum disorder at well-baby clinics. Interviews were undertaken with 12 preventive care physicians (one representative per province). It was found that the vast majority of participants did not follow-up general surveillance with an autism spectrum disorder -specific screener as prescribed by the guideline. Six barriers (limited knowledge about autism spectrum disorder symptoms in infant and toddlerhood, professional attitude toward early detection, problems in discussing initial worries with parents, limited use of screening instruments, perceptions toward cultural and language differences and constraints regarding availability of healthcare services) were found. The results of this study highlight the importance of an integrative approach, raising awareness of the benefits regarding early detection of autism spectrum disorder in preventive care, the need of continuous investment in easy and accessible training and active screening, and a closer collaboration between preventive care organizations and autism spectrum disorder experts.

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