Diagnostic Evaluation of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Pediatric Primary Care

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Background and Objectives: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continue to experience significant delays in diagnosis and interventions. One of the main factors contributing to this delay is a shortage of developmental-behavioral specialists. Diagnostic evaluation of ASD by primary care pediatricians (PCPs) has been shown to be reliable and to decrease the interval from first concern to diagnosis. In this paper, we present the results of a primary care ASD diagnosis program in which the PCP serves as the primary diagnostician and leverages the infrastructure of the primary care medical home to support the child and family during the pre- and post-diagnostic periods, along with data on parental satisfaction with this model. Methods: Retrospective data from a cohort of patients evaluated through this program were analyzed to determine the mean age at diagnosis and interval from referral for evaluation to diagnosis. We used survey methodology to obtain data from parents regarding their satisfaction with the process. Results: Data from 8 of 20 children evaluated from April 2021 through May 2022 showed a median age of diagnosis of 34.5 months compared to the national average of 49 months. Mean interval from referral for evaluation to diagnosis was 3.5 months. Parental survey responses indicated high satisfaction. Conclusions: This model was successful in shortening the interval from referral to diagnosis resulting in significant decrease of age at diagnosis compared with the national average. Widespread implementation could improve access to timely diagnostic services and improve outcomes for children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


  • access to care
  • health inequities
  • health outcomes
  • patient-centeredness
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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