Professor Robyn Young has been working with colleagues in the US, Spain and China to use the Autism Detection in Early Childhood (ADEC) diagnostic tool – a screening tool developed by Professor Young for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders – as a parent-administered diagnostic tool.
Despite being separated by both distance and lockdown measures, the autism researchers have been collectively validating the tool by using telehealth. “I think it’s a success to come out of the COVID environment for a diverse group of international practitioners to have found a new solution to common difficulties with which we are all grappling,” says Professor Young.
“We have all been using the ADEC tool for many years, and we are united in our approach of trying to continue diagnoses through telehealth and developing validated tools that enable us to do so.”
A group of clinicians in Ohio, USA, has successfully used the tool, which Professor Young is currently evaluating for its reliability and validity.
“At present we have only been using clients in the US and the data is being collected as a clinical trial,” she explains. “We hope to pilot out own study later this year. We are in the fortunate position to validate the tool, because unlike these other countries, we can still engage in face to face assessments. This will enable us to directly compare the parent administered ADEC with the clinician administered version.”
ADEC is currently a clinician-administered tool which is used to go through 16 behaviours. If a child doesn’t demonstrate these behaviours by the age of 2 to 2 ½, they are at risk of developing an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“Obviously, in this current environment we cannot engage with children as we once did to diagnose them, and this concern is now universal with teams in China, USA, Australia and Spain all struggling to determine how to conduct diagnostic assessments through telehealth or other online platforms,” says Professor Young. “Therefore, assessing parental administration of ADEC is important.”