Date of Award

5-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Communication Disorders and Sciences

First Advisor

Boyer, Valerie

Abstract

AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF Anna Kallal, for the Masters of Science degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences presented on March 28, 2016, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: AUTISM AND OUR COMMUNITY: FEEDBACK FROM EARLY INTERVENTION PROVIDERS MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Valerie Boyer Early Intervention (EI) providers often work closely with children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or children who have signs and symptoms of ASD. An understanding of the characteristics in children at early ages can lead to an earlier diagnosis of ASD. The current study investigated specific characteristics that EI providers identify prior to making a referral for an ASD evaluation as well as what treatment strategies EI providers report utilizing when working with children who have ASD. Information was gathered for this study by use of a survey. The survey contained two vignettes of children with varying degrees of ASD characteristics. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) who work as EI providers responded to a survey. Results showed that respondents were more willing to make referrals for ASD evaluations when a child displayed more severe characteristics. Respondents listed treatment strategies they were likely to employ with children who display similar characteristics of the children in the vignettes. The researcher identified from survey responses that EI providers are more likely to identify social communication characteristics when describing features critical to referral. This study identifies the characteristics important to making earlier referrals for ASD evaluations, as well as what treatment strategies work best when working with children with ASD.

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