We previously demonstrated that our early intervention model system, which was centered on using the CSBS to screen all babies at the 1-year check-up as standard of care, resulted in a mean age of 12 months for screening, 14 months for evaluation, and 18 months for treatment participation. These are far younger ages than is common in the U.S. Our 3-stage model system, Get SET (S=Screen;E=Evaluate;T=Treat) Early, screened >10,000 1 year olds in our first trial run1 detecting over 100 ASD and other developmental delayed toddlers. We will build on this highly effective model by implementing a new version in two major cities: San Diego and Phoenix;Los Angeles, Irvine, and Phoenix will provide baseline control data. In Phoenix, we test the feasibility of establishing the Get SET Early model in a city with one of the lowest median incomes and oldest age of first diagnosis in America.
In AIM #1, the Screen and Refer Early stage, we will create a Pediatrician Network with 100 members. In San Diego we will utilize our existing Pediatrician Network and test new innovations such as a repeat triple screen at 12, 18, and 24 months to ensure that no toddlers are missed. Speed of referral for evaluation will be compared and contrasted using parent (self) and automatic (referral i- Pad App) options. We will track every toddler with an eventual ASD diagnosis within circumscribed medical groups to determine the true sensitivity and specificity of the screening tool and the percentage of ASD toddlers detected by our model. Anonymous survey data regarding screening habits will be administered to parents and pediatricians.
AIM #2 implements the Evaluate and Refer Early stage. Its key attribute is an ASD Early Evaluation Clinic that specializes in the rapid scheduling and evaluation of every referred screened positive toddler. Toddlers will enter the program at the age they fail the screen (i.e., 12, 18 or 24 months) and will be thoroughly diagnostically evaluated and tracked once per year until they turn 3 years. This specialty Clinic is at our Autism Center in San Diego and will be developed at SARRC in Phoenix. Automated versus optional self-referral for treatment will be tested and compared.
AIM #3 implements the Treat Early stage. Its key attributes are a network of providers of empirically based treatment and the innovative use of an inexpensive and readily available web-based treatment tracking system to document engagement. Treatment Networks will be created in San Diego and Phoenix. Primary outcome measures include rates and ages of screening and referral, evaluation and referral, and treatment engagement;sustainability across years;diagnostic, clinical and demographic characteristics of subjects;professional and parent satisfaction at each stage. We hypothesize that providing screening tools with clear cut-off scores and guidelines for automatic referral for evaluation and treatment, will result in dramatically lowering mean age of diagnosis and treatment in Phoenix from 4-5 years down to 1-2 years;San Diego will likewise have mean ages of 1-2 years for diagnosis and treatment making them significantly earlier than Los Angeles and Irvine control sites.
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, most children with ASD do not receive a diagnosis and begin receiving treatment until well after their 4th birthday, which is unfortunate given that many connections between brain cells have already been established by that age. Our program will test a model called Get S.E.T. Early (S=Screen, E=Evaluate, T=Treat) in both San Diego and Phoenix, designed to detect, evaluate, and treat ASD within the first 2 years of life. We predict that providing screening tools with clear cut-off scores and guidelines for automatic referral for both evaluation and treatment will result in dramatically lowering mean age of detection in Phoenix from 4-5 years down to 1-2 years.