Get SET Early to Identify and Treatment Refer Autism Spectrum Disorder at 1 Year and Discover Factors That Influence Early Diagnosis

J Pediatr. 2021 Sep;236:179-188. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2021.04.041. Epub 2021 Apr 27.


Objectives: To examine the impact of a new approach, Get SET Early, on the rates of early autism spectrum disorder (ASD) detection and factors that influence the screen-evaluate-treat chain.

Study design: After attending Get SET Early training, 203 pediatricians administered 57 603 total screens using the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Infant-Toddler Checklist at 12-, 18-, and 24-month well-baby examinations, and parents designated presence or absence of concern. For screen-positive toddlers, pediatricians specified if the child was being referred for evaluation, and if not, why not.

Results: Collapsed across ages, toddlers were evaluated and referred for treatment at a median age of 19 months, and those screened at 12 months (59.4% of sample) by 15 months. Pediatricians referred one-third of screen-positive toddlers for evaluation, citing lack of confidence in the accuracy of screen-positive results as the primary reason for nonreferral. If a parent expressed concerns, referral probability doubled, and the rate of an ASD diagnosis increased by 37%. Of 897 toddlers evaluated, almost one-half were diagnosed as ASD, translating into an ASD prevalence of 1%.

Conclusions: The Get SET Early model was effective at detecting ASD and initiating very early treatment. Results also underscored the need for change in early identification approaches to formally operationalize and incorporate pediatrician judgment and level of parent concern into the process.

Keywords: autism; diagnosis; early detection; screening.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy
  • Checklist
  • Child, Preschool
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Parents / psychology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Referral and Consultation