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Funded Projects

(FIRST) Expanding Pathways to Early Screening and Intervention for Underserved Toddlers with ASD (ASD-PATH)


  • Toddlerhood (13-35 months)

Targeted/Underserved Population

  • Hispanic/Latino
  • Low-income


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a highly prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder that has been shown to be amenable to treatment when children are identified at young ages and receive early, specialized intervention. However, the pathway to specialized services is fraught with obstacles that prevent many toddlers from receiving early intervention during the critical birth-to-three window, when treatment is likely to have the greatest impact. Obstacles to services include: (1) delays in early detection, which often result from a failure to receive ASD-specialized screening, (2) delays in obtaining a formal ASD diagnosis, which is often required before specialized treatment can be accessed, and (3) a lack of community providers with training and experience in ASD intervention. These obstacles are often magnified for families from Hispanic and low income backgrounds, who are less likely to receive early diagnoses or have access to regular pediatric or specialty care. The purpose of the ASD-PATH project is to increase pathways of access to early detection and intervention for toddlers from Hispanic and low income families in King County, WA, by building community capacity for providing specialized screening, intervention, and family-centered care within the context of existing, accessible federally supported programs. A unique aspect of this project is its preventive intervention approach, in which toddlers suspected of having ASD, and their caregivers, can access services prior to a formal diagnosis, with the goal of attenuating symptom development. Toddlers with suspected or confirmed ASD (ages 16-30 months) and their caregivers will be recruited from primary care providers (PCPs), Part C Early Intervention programs, Early Head Start, and Home Visiting Programs. Training workshops and technical assistance will enhance providers' use of (1) validated Level 1 and Level 2 ASD screening tools, (2) an evidence-based, low-cost, play-based ASD intervention that can be taught to caregivers, and (3) strategies to promote familycentered communication and decision-making. The project will use a mixed method design that employs quasi-experimental and interrupted time series approaches and generalized linear mixed models to evaluate the effectiveness of the ASD-PATH model for increasing 18-month ASD screening, earlier access to specialized intervention, and caregiver well-being and toddler social communication. Data will be collected through self-report, electronic medical records, and direct behavioral observation.


Listed is descending order by year published.

Locke J, Ibanez LI, Posner E, Frederick L, Carpentier P, Stone WL. Parent perceptions about communicating with providers regarding early autism concerns. Pediatrics. 2020; 145(Suppl 1): S72-S80.

Stone WL, Ibanez LV, Carpentier P, Posner E, Bravo A, Frederick L, Locke J. Early intervention providers’ perspectives about working with families of toddlers with suspected ASD: a qualitative study

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