Autism Care Improved, Diagnosis Time Shortened by New MU Program

boy playing with a puzzle

Wait lists for a specialist to confirm an autism diagnosis can be agonizing and last months. As the prevalence of autism and autism spectrum disorders increase, so does the demand for a health care system that is fully equipped to respond to the complex needs associated with autism. Now, Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Autism, a new program from the University of Missouri, is training primary care providers in best-practice care for autism spectrum disorders. Initial results of the pilot program found significant improvements in primary care provider confidence in screening and management of autism and in utilization of specific tools and resources.

“We are very excited about the initial results from the ECHO Autism model,” said Kristin Sohl, associate professor of child health and the director of Show-Me ECHO Autism. “Children with autism can show symptoms as early as 12 months; however, in too many cases children may not receive a diagnosis until they are 5 years old. Early diagnosis is critical for children with autism, and primary care providers play an important role in that initial process.”

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