Event tomorrow: IACC Services Workshop: Building a Seamless System of Quality Services & Supports Across the Lifespan
From a presentation by Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education
There are important ethical, legal and social issues implications resulting from the study by Miller et al., particularly relating to screening for genetic and other markers for autism and other developmental disorders. There is a diverse range of opinions in the autism community on early screening for autism ranging from strong support for developing biologic prenatal screening methods to concerns that such efforts may lead to selected terminations of fetuses showing genetic or other biomarkers of increased risk. It is imperative that autism research proceed with the appropriate precautions and safeguards and that the concerns of the autism community are reflected in this process. At this point, the state of the science is focused on improving early screening in the first years of life to identify risk for an ASD in order to initiate early intervention to reduce or prevent the development of disabling symptoms and promote positive skill development.The study by King et al. highlights the need for a clearer understanding of the challenges and barriers to screening and referral. Studies are needed to determine the factors that lead to implementing screening and referral programs that successfully serve children with ASD and their families. Studies should include factors relating to the clinical practice, availability and collaboration among community-based services, and information needs of parents, other caregivers, and early educators.There is a lack of reliable and valid screening and diagnostic tests for use in international, resource-poor settings. Early screening and diagnosis when coupled with inexpensive, parent-guided interventions is an important potential prevention strategy in such settings.Research is needed to identify effective methods for screening especially children at higher risk for ASDs, such as the extremely preterm children studied by Johnson et al.