BALTIMORE, Md. -- The Kennedy Krieger Institute and Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced today that a first-of-its-kind, free online video tutorial on early autism recognition will be distributed to member pediatricians throughout the state. Developed by autism researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the goal of the tutorial is to improve recognition of the early signs of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in one-year-olds among pediatricians, parents and early intervention providers.
Currently, ASD-specific screening begins within pediatric practices at age 18 months. However, experts agree that these screeners are imperfect and usually require parents to provide rigid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to questions about behaviors that often present inconsistently in toddlers. As a result, the early signs of ASD may be missed.
“The earliest signs of autism in one-year-olds may be subtle, even for trained professionals,” said Rebecca Landa, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. “These videos are meant to provide pediatricians with the visual tools necessary to distinguish between the behaviors of children with and without ASD so that we can support healthier learning and development in children on the spectrum as early as possible.”
The nine-minute tutorial consists of six video clips comparing toddlers who show no signs of ASD to toddlers who show early signs of ASD. Each video is presented with a voice-over explaining how the specific behaviors exhibited by the child, as they occur on screen, are either suggestive of ASD or typical child development.
“This tutorial will help pediatricians identify children with ASD at a younger age by sensitizing them to the early signs and red flags, such as poor social interaction, rather than waiting for more telltale signs that emerge later, such as repetitive behaviors and language delay,” said Ken Tellerman, MD, Chairman of the Emotional Health Committee for the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Although developed as a resource for Maryland’s pediatricians, Kennedy Krieger has also made the tutorial available to parents and other professionals at www.kennedykrieger.org/AutismTutorial.
The videos and information presented within the tutorial were gathered as part of Kennedy Krieger’s early detection research study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Funding for development of the tutorial was provided by The Parents’ Place of Maryland.