Cheryl Dissanayake is the Director of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University and Project Leader with Autism CRC.

Prof Dissanayake will present in the Autism CRC Program 1 Panel - Diagnosis (Symposium 1, Day 1).

Developmental Surveillance for ASD: Prospective identification of ASD in Infants and Toddlers.

Overview: Our objective is to train community-based primary care professionals (including Maternal and Child Health nurses, paediatricians, GPs, allied health staff and early childhood educators) across four states to prospectively identify infants and toddlers developing ASD during their routine assessments of young children at 12-, 18- and 24-months of age.

The Social Attention and Communication Study – Revised (SACS-R) is currently being implemented in Victoria, with parallel implementation in Western Australia to begin later in 2015. Following training of Maternal and Child Health nurses on the early signs of ASD, infants and toddlers identified as at risk through their routine community-based assessments by the nurses are referred for further behavioural and developmental assessments at 6-monthly intervals until 24-months, with a final follow-up assessment at 36 months of age to evaluate the success of the program in prospectively identifying children who will receive a diagnosis with an ASD.

It is expected that implementation of the SACS-R will result in the correct diagnosis of at least 50% of children with ASD before 2-years and at least 70% by 3-years. Early identification and diagnosis results in earlier access to relevant early intervention programs, and therefore serves to maximize developmental outcomes for affected children and their families. This program of tracking pathways to ASD behaviourally will eventually be coupled with biological markers to enable faster and accurate identification and diagnosis of children with an ASD.

Also presenting in this panel session:
Dr Josephine Barbaro.