Title

The Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Preschool Settings

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2015

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Sarah Ferguson

Abstract

Caregivers often recognize the signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in their child before age two, yet, they often do not receive a diagnosis until after the child is four years old. Preschool teachers have high levels of exposure to the developing child and so are in an ideal position to identify children who may have ASD and refer them for assessments which may lead to access to early intervention services. This research sought to better understand whether or not preschool teachers are familiar with signs of ASD in young children, comfortable discussing concerns with parents, and knowledgeable about services to which young children with ASD may benefit. This research is important to the social work field because it is imperative to ensure public agencies are working to help families gain access to services which will aid their children in reaching their full potential. The sample in this study consisted of 84 preschool teachers, many of whom were Caucasian (78%), female (90.6%), and held a college degree (80%). The results of this study found preschool teachers to have a moderate level of knowledge regarding ASD symptoms regardless of experience. In general teachers held positive perceptions about mainstreaming and those who have had training specific to inclusion had more positive perceptions about mainstreaming than those who did not (p = .026). Teachers responded with high levels of comfort voicing their concerns about child development to parents, and teachers with greater experience reported feeling more comfortable addressing their concerns with parents. Teachers in this study reported having knowledge of services available to families with children with ASD and there was no association between teachers experience or education level and their familiarity with these services.

Keywords

Autism Spectrum Disorder, preschool, early intervention, mainstreaming, early identification of ASD

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.