Autism Access Link for Early Referral and Treatment

  • End date
    May 31, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Oregon Health and Science University
Updated on 29 July 2021


Autism Access Link for Early Referral and Treatment [ALERT], the intervention proposed in this application, is a novel state-wide referral and case management platform that PCPs can activate to ensure that a child with suspected ASD receives all necessary ASD diagnosis and treatment resources in a single referral, radically simplifying a complex diagnostic and treatment process. We hypothesize that Autism ALERT will have strong acceptability and high rates of use among primary care providers as well as among diverse low-income patients of children at risk for ASD, and that we will see higher rates of child ASD educational evaluations within six months, and shorter time between referral and ASD treatment, compared with our control.


Though significant research effort has focused on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) screening, less attention has been devoted to optimizing follow-up of children who are subsequently identified as at-risk. Despite increases in ASD screening rates, many children with ASD wait years between when autism is suspected in the primary care setting and when definitive diagnosis and treatment begin. Delayed and missed diagnoses are particularly problematic for low-income and racial/ethnic minority children in the US, who experience higher rates of these adverse outcomes. In this project, we propose to pilot test Autism Access Link to Early Referral and Treatment (Autism ALERT), a statewide monitoring and case management program to accelerate access to ASD diagnosis and treatment among children with suspected ASD the primary care setting. The system will reduce the time between identification of suspected ASD in the primary care setting and establishment of ASD diagnosis and treatment services, by reducing family barriers to care, decreasing primary care provider burdens, and simplifying referral processes. The program will be available to any Oregon child age 12-54 months, regardless of health system or payor type. Autism ALERT will become part of the Help Me Grow national network, which gives it potential for statewide and national spread. In this proposed research, we will pilot test Autism ALERT by comparing it to an existing ASD screening intervention in 6 Oregon primary care practices. Primary goals of this pilot project are to assess feasibility and acceptability of Autism ALERT for primary care providers and families, to test the mechanism of action of Autism ALERT, to pilot test efficacy in reducing time to autism diagnosis and treatment, and to test fidelity of protocol implementation. If successful, this project will be expanded into an implementation/effectiveness R01 in which the program will be tested throughout the state of Oregon. In the long term, this research will result in a sustainable, evidence-based statewide and ultimately national monitoring system children with suspected ASD.

Condition Pervasive developmental disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, autism spectrum disorders
Treatment Autism ALERT, Screening Intervention
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04861740
SponsorOregon Health and Science University
Last Modified on29 July 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

child's primary care provider suspects the child has ASD, child is patient at
one of the study clinics, child age 12 to 54 months, family speaks English or
Spanish, no prior ASD medical diagnosis or ASD diagnostic evaluation

Exclusion Criteria

Previous diagnosis of ASD or prior diagnostic evaluation for ASD
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