Early identification and treatment of autism can prevent additional behavioral problems later in a child’s life. Long wait lists and travel limitations can often make it difficult for parents to obtain timely evaluations. A new telehealth technology has been developed that can provide clinicians with the ability to remotely observe a child’s behavior at home and allows parents to communicate with the clinician directly. The objective of this study was to compare the length of time from referral to the completion of a child’s diagnostic evaluation using asynchronous telehealth (TH) and using the traditional in-person assessment method (IPA).
Three tertiary autism diagnostic centers in the United States conducted this study between 2016 and 2018. All three institutional review boards approved the research. Twenty-eight children were assigned to an IPA group and 29 children were assigned to a TH group. The IPA assessment was based on a standard in-person evaluation. Telehealth assessments used the naturalistic observation diagnostic assessment (NODA) system. Data were analyzed using SPSS. Required sample size was determined by power analysis.
For the three diagnostic centers, the average time from referral to completion of an autism diagnosis with IPA was 115 days and 66 days with telehealth.
The NODA TH video-capture smartphone‐based technology offered a significant timesaving advantage for families seeking autism diagnostic services. The TH technology provided families located in remote areas with easier access to autism evaluations.
Autism assessment and diagnosis, Telehealth, Timesaving benefits