Monitoring children’s development in early childhood education settings to promote early detection of autism

Beth Mozolic-Staunton, Josephine Barbaro, Jacqui Yoxall, Michelle Donelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Autism is a developmental condition that can be detected in early childhood. Early intervention can improve outcomes, though many children are not identified until they reach primary school. Early childhood educators are well placed to monitor children’s development and identify those who may benefit from additional supports, though implementation of standardised tools and processes is limited. The National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia has increased the onus on educators to support families to access funded services. A workshop on evidence-informed practice in early detection for autism was provided for early childhood professionals. The theory of practice architectures informed development and analysis of pre- and post-workshop surveys to explore changes in early childhood educators’ perspectives on factors influencing universal developmental monitoring and referrals to early intervention supports using an evidence-based tool, the Social Attention and Communication Surveillance-Revised (SACS-R). Post-workshop increases in early childhood educators’ perceived knowledge and confidence are evident, though recent policy reforms present challenges. Population surveillance using SACS-R in early childhood education is effective for identification and referral for children who have autism, and capacity building for professionals to use SACS-R is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralasian Journal of Early Childhood
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

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