Research Update

ACE Awarded NIMH Services Grant

Recently we were one of five programs selected to receive funding from a highly competitive call from the National Institute of Mental Health for an early screening program for developmental delays. In this program, we follow a 3-stage model, the Get SET (Screen, Evaluate, Treat) Early model. We have previously used this system to screen, evaluate, and quickly provide early intervention services to children with risk for autism or other delays.

We developed an early screening approach called the “1-Year Well-Baby Check-Up Approach,” where we collaborated with over 150 pediatricians in San Diego who collectively screened over 60,000 toddlers at 12 months. Over 600 toddlers have received free, comprehensive evaluations at our laboratory after referral by their pediatrician, and were also referred for appropriate services if necessary.

We are currently innovating our program in San Diego to start screening at 12, 18, and 24 months, to carefully screen children for any delays that may become apparent as they age. Also, we are beginning to use our screening form on tablets to make the screening process more efficient, reduce scoring errors, and allow for immediate referrals for developmental evaluations.

Our center is also working with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix, Arizona, to replicate our program. Currently, diagnoses of autism in Arizona are provided at one of the oldest ages documented in the nation. We believe implementing the Get SET Early model can drastically lower the age of diagnosis and allow families access to services earlier.