Peggy HallidayPeggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.
Host: At what point should parents take their child to be screened and where should they go?
Peggy Halliday: As soon as parents become worried they should take their child for screening, they shouldn t wait. They should start by going to their own pediatrician or nurse practitioner and I will encourage parents to be a very specific about why they are concerned. I would say -- my six month old doesn t smile at me or my eighteen month old is not pointing when I want her to look at something that I am excited about or these are the milestones that my baby has not reached.
If your pediatrician or nurse practitioner either is not concerned or is not comfortable, it is tempting to allow yourself to be reassured, but if you really have some concerns I would not allow yourself to be reassured, because research shows that parents, when parents are concerned about there being a problem they are usually right.
So, I would trust your instincts on this and I would find a developmental pediatrician or perhaps a pediatric neurologist who has a lot of experience in working with children with autism spectrum disorders and who feels really comfortable making that diagnoses and that s where I would go and I would look for a professional who has a reputation for being proactive and aggressive about treatment once that diagnosis is made as well.