Presentation Title

Physician Knowledge of Joint Attention in Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders

Faculty Mentor

Hyon Soo Lee, Connie Kasari

Start Date

17-11-2018 10:30 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 10:45 AM

Location

C155

Session

Oral 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is defined as deficits in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), with 1 in 59 children diagnosed with ASD (CDC, 2018). As earlier interventions have been shown to provide the best outcomes, there has been an increased push for earlier diagnoses of ASD (Tager-Flusberg, 2014). Although children can be reliably diagnosed by 18-24 months (Charman et al., 2005), a study found the average age of diagnosis to be 4 years and 10 months (Roades, Scarpa, & Salley, 2007). In this study, developmental behavioral pediatricians were associated with the lowest age of diagnoses at 4 years, and diagnosed 2.5 years younger than most other specialties (Roades, Scarpa, & Salley, 2007). Other studies have reported challenges faced by various physicians when diagnosing ASD, such as fear of family reactions, and outdated beliefs about ASD (Heidgerken, Geffken, Modi, & Frakey, 2005).

As physicians are one of the first professionals families encounter when a child is born and have the opportunity to detect ASD during early well-child visits, there may be a need for specialized physician training in diagnosing ASD. In particular, physicians’ knowledge in joint attention (JA), nonverbal referential communication used to share an experience with others, may help early detection of ASD. JA is a pre-requisite to social communication and has been found to be associated with ASD (Ibanez et al., 2013; Charman, 2003).

In the current study, physicians in different specialties were interviewed to examine their understanding of JA and experiences diagnosing ASD. Preliminary findings suggest that physicians with different training backgrounds have different levels of JA knowledge. Some also expressed their lack of confidence diagnosing ASD given their time constraints, indicating there may be a need for more easily digestible training materials to increase physicians' awareness of ASD and JA.

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Nov 17th, 10:30 AM Nov 17th, 10:45 AM

Physician Knowledge of Joint Attention in Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders

C155

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is defined as deficits in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), with 1 in 59 children diagnosed with ASD (CDC, 2018). As earlier interventions have been shown to provide the best outcomes, there has been an increased push for earlier diagnoses of ASD (Tager-Flusberg, 2014). Although children can be reliably diagnosed by 18-24 months (Charman et al., 2005), a study found the average age of diagnosis to be 4 years and 10 months (Roades, Scarpa, & Salley, 2007). In this study, developmental behavioral pediatricians were associated with the lowest age of diagnoses at 4 years, and diagnosed 2.5 years younger than most other specialties (Roades, Scarpa, & Salley, 2007). Other studies have reported challenges faced by various physicians when diagnosing ASD, such as fear of family reactions, and outdated beliefs about ASD (Heidgerken, Geffken, Modi, & Frakey, 2005).

As physicians are one of the first professionals families encounter when a child is born and have the opportunity to detect ASD during early well-child visits, there may be a need for specialized physician training in diagnosing ASD. In particular, physicians’ knowledge in joint attention (JA), nonverbal referential communication used to share an experience with others, may help early detection of ASD. JA is a pre-requisite to social communication and has been found to be associated with ASD (Ibanez et al., 2013; Charman, 2003).

In the current study, physicians in different specialties were interviewed to examine their understanding of JA and experiences diagnosing ASD. Preliminary findings suggest that physicians with different training backgrounds have different levels of JA knowledge. Some also expressed their lack of confidence diagnosing ASD given their time constraints, indicating there may be a need for more easily digestible training materials to increase physicians' awareness of ASD and JA.