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: Is there any harm in delaying an autism diagnosis?
Peggy Halliday: I think there is great harm in delaying the autism diagnosis. Children with autism need the diagnosis in order to receive Early Intervention Services. So, if the doctor hesitates to give that diagnosis or delays the diagnosis he is really delaying some critical time that the child could be receiving, very helpful intervention services. Well, I understand some of the concerns that pediatricians have, some of the reasons that they may not want to give the autism diagnosis if they are not absolutely sure. It is much better to give a diagnosis at least of developmental delays that can begin starting services because then you can give autistic children best hope for a brighter future.