Telehealth services have become increasingly popular during the pandemic, providing convenient virtual access to healthcare. For children with autism, telehealth can serve as an important first step in the diagnostic process – paving the way for a comprehensive in-person evaluation.
Benefits of telehealth autism screening
Telehealth autism screenings and assessments offer several key benefits:
Parents no longer have to take time off work and arrange childcare for other children to bring their child to an evaluation. Telehealth allows assessments to be scheduled around a family’s availability from the comfort of their home.
Telehealth lowers barriers to getting an initial autism screening, which can lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention. The earlier autism is identified, the more impact treatment can have.
Many children with autism struggle with new environments and people. A telehealth evaluation in a familiar setting can put children more at ease and provide a more accurate assessment.
Telehealth Services for Triage
Telehealth services can help determine if an in-person evaluation is warranted and what type of specialist may be needed. It acts as a first step to filter out children who likely do not have autism.
However, telehealth also has limitations. A comprehensive in-person evaluation, conducted by an autism specialist, is still considered the gold standard for an autism diagnosis. Telehealth evaluations should be viewed as:
A screening tool – they can indicate the likelihood of autism but cannot provide an official diagnosis.
A bridge to an in-person evaluation – they help determine if an in-person evaluation is needed and what type. In summary, telehealth autism screenings and assessments can serve as a valuable first step for many families, helping to identify potential autism symptoms earlier, determine the need for an in-person evaluation, and put children more at ease before a comprehensive assessment. But a full diagnostic evaluation, conducted in person, remains critical to determine an official autism diagnosis and treatment plan.
More information and resources
You can learn more about telehealth, autism diagnosis, and what it means for you and your family here: