Free autism screenings could lead to early intervention, help for children

Dec 7, 2020, 4:25 AM | Updated: 7:12 am
(Photo courtesy AZACS)...
(Photo courtesy AZACS)
(Photo courtesy AZACS)

PHOENIX — Parents who are concerned that their children may have autism can start a screening process with a ten-minute phone call.

Visits with pediatricians are critical, but they may have full plates during the pandemic.

“They make sure the child is healthy and moving forward, but they may not always have the time to devote to a full developmental screening,” Dr. Christopher Smith, vice president and research director at Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, said.

In the phone calls, he says technicians won’t ask parents about their child’s behavior in the Easy Access Autism Screening.

“It’s really just asking about certain skills that kids should be demonstrating by certain ages,” Smith said.

The answers won’t produce a diagnosis, but they could tell parents if their child could benefit from early intervention treatment.

“Identifying kids as young as possible gives people with autism the best chances to reach their full potential,” Smith said.

The technicians will validate the concerns of parents, if any.

“Parents will respond with, ‘Oh no, my child’s not doing that yet,’ or, ‘Sometimes I see this,’ or ‘Yeah, we see this all the time and there’s nothing to worry about here,’” Smith said.

The Community Foundation of Southern Arizona sponsors the free phone calls.

Learn more online or call 602-218-8204.

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Free autism screenings could lead to early intervention, help for children