Title

Navigating the autism diagnostic system: Implications for earlier identification.

Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Psychology

Keywords

Psychology, Clinical.

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorders are characterized by repetitive, stereotyped behaviours and impairments in communication and socialization. The present research examined parents' experiences during the course of obtaining an autism diagnosis for their children. Participants, who resided throughout Ontario, were recruited through the Autism Society of Ontario and the Summit Centre Preschool for Children with Autism. The questionnaire was designed for the present research and focused on parents' initial concerns about their children's development and attempts at seeking professional help. By parent report, the children were diagnosed with Autistic Disorder (N = 52), Asperger's Disorder (N = 7) and PDD-NOS (N = 21). Results indicate that in 75% of cases, symptoms of autism were first identified by children's mothers at 19.71 months of age on average. The average amount of time that had passed between the age at which parents initially became concerned about their children's development and the age at the first appointment with a professional to address their concerns was 10.38 months. For the entire sample, the average age at diagnosis was 4.29 years of age and results of the research suggest that children are being diagnosed at younger ages over time. Child demographic variables (i.e., gender, ethnicity, birth order and socioeconomic status) did not significantly impact age at initial concern, the help-seeking delay and age at diagnosis. Parents believed that increasing medical doctors' knowledge about autism, decreasing the amount of time on waiting lists and having more professionals available to assess and diagnose autism would make the autism diagnostic system more efficient. Implications of the results for facilitating earlier diagnosis are discussed.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2005 .S665. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 44-03, page: 1517. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2005.