Early Identification of Autism

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In the article “Early Identification of Autism: Implications for Counselors,” Layne (2000) contends that due to the increase in autism diagnoses, a need has grown for the expansion of training for counselors in the identification of behaviors associated with autism in preschool-age children. Layne also suggests that auxiliary instruction in coping techniques is necessary to help relieve stress experienced by families of children diagnosed with autism. Furthermore, Layne discusses the importance of expanding of the role and relationship of school counselors and community counselors to build a support network for children living with autism and their families. Layne (2000) provides a summary of research conducted to ascertain the validity and reliability of screening tools (e.g., the DSM-IV) in identifying symptoms consistent with autistic behavior in very young children. Through the findings, Layne suggests that the screening tools--though valid and reliable--are secondary in importance relative to the qualifications of the clinician using them, and that with proper training in the use of these tools by counselors, proper identification of children with autism is likely. Consequently, according to Layne, improvements in individualized treatment plans for children with autism are also apparent with proper diagnosis. Layne (2000) introduced various statistics that illustrate high incidence of marital stress, alcohol abuse, and behavioral and emotional issues in non-clinical children relative to the diagnosis of a child with autism. It is suggested that with more knowledge of counseling directed toward families of children living with autism, school and community counselors are better able to assist these families (Layne 2000). Further research suggests that with additional training, these counselors can make a concerted effort to provide ancillary resources outside of school and the home to help all members of the family who are affected by the child’s diagnosis....
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