Autism Initiatives

 Autism Initiatives

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Autism Initiatives


​Welcome to American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Autism Initiatives. Given the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), all pediatric primary care providers should be prepared to care for children and youth with ASD and their families. 

As the leading pediatric health organization in the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics is uniquely positioned to provide support and evidence-based guidelines to pediatricians caring for children and youth with ASD.

Below you will find information about autism tools and resources for pediatricians. Autism resources for parents, families, and caregivers are available on the AAP parenting website,HealthyChildren.org.

Quick Facts

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 59 children 8 years of age has been identified with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

  • Children of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups are reported to have ASD.

  • The AAP recommends that all children be screened for ASD at ages 18 and 24 months, along with regular developmental surveillance.

  • The Academy's Council on Children with Disabilities (COCWD) Autism Subcommittee (ASC) serves as the main point of contact for the Academy on issues related to care of children and families with ASD. For more information see below. 

AAP Policy Statements and Clinical Reports
Autism Prevalence
​​Tools and Resources for Pediatricians

Autism: Caring for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Resource Toolkit
This comprehensive toolkit provides clinical guidance on autism, interactive algorithms, expert ASD screening, surveillance, diagnosis and treatment tools, tracking aids, coding tips, and much more. Also included are dozens of ready-to-print clinical fact sheets and family handouts on popular autism topics, in both English and Spanish.

EQIPP: Bright Futures – Infancy and Early Childhood
This web-based quality improvement course enhances pediatrician understanding and implementation of the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision, 4th edition guidelines, including screening recommendations for ASD. This EQIPP course is free for AAP members and provides 25 Maintenance of Certification Part IV credits.

Screening Technical Assistance & Resource Center
The goal of the Screening in Practices Initiative is to improve the health, wellness, and development of children through practice and system-based interventions to increase rates of early childhood screening, referral and follow up. The center includes information about screening, referral, and follow up for developmental disabilities such as ASD.

AAP Statement on US Preventive Services Task Force Final Recommendation Statement on Autism Screening
Published in 2016, this statement from the AAP reiterates the Academy's recommendation that all children should be screened for ASD at ages 18 and 24 months, along with regular developmental surveillance.

Autism Case Training
The CDC Autism Case Training is an AAP-endorsed curriculum that provides real-life scenarios to improve early identification of children with ASD. The training modules help with identification, diagnosis and management of patients with ASD.

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Resources for Pediatricians to Share with Families

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder
This booklet provides answers to frequently asked questions from parents and families about ASD, including but not limited to symptoms, diagnosis, treatment strategies, and transitioning to adulthood. 

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): An Introduction
This handout is adapted from the "Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder" brochure as part of the Plain Language Pediatrics guidebook (a health literacy project led by the AAP).

Autism Spectrum Disorders: What Every Parent Needs to Know
This award-winning book is an invaluable resource for parents and caregivers of children who have been diagnosed with ASD. Prepared under the editorial direction of two pediatricians who are autism experts—one of whom is also the parent of a son with autism—this book helps parents understand how ASD is defined and diagnosed and provides information on the most current types of behavioral and developmental therapies.

Is Your Toddler Communicating With You
This brochure encourages parents to share any concerns they have about their baby's language development with their pediatrician as early as possible. It also provides early language and social milestones in a checklist format. 

What is Your One-Year-Old Telling You?
This handout is adapted from the "Is Your Toddler Communicating with You" brochure as part of the Plain Language Pediatrics guidebook (a health literacy project led by the AAP).

Learn the Signs. Act Early.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Learn the Signs. Act Early program provides parents, childcare professionals, and pediatric clinicians free resources, in English and Spanish, for monitoring a child's development. The program offers parent-friendly, research-based milestone checklists for children as young as 2 months of age. The Milestone Tracker mobile app can help parents track their child's development and share the information with their pediatricians.

Autism Subcommittee
  • The COCWD ASC provides evidence-based guidance specific to caring for children and youth with ASD and facilitates the translation of same into education, practice, policy and advocacy for pediatricians, caregivers, and the public. Objectives of the ASC include the following:
    • Provide evidence-based guidance to pediatric primary care clinicians on screening, diagnosis, and management of children and youth with ASD.

    • Develop educational initiatives to build capacity among pediatric primary care clinicians who care for children and youth with ASD.

    • Increase awareness of evidence-based ASD guidelines and recommendations for caregivers of individuals with ASD.

    • Provide guidance and direction for policy and advocacy initiatives that promote and support recommendations outlined in AAP ASD publications. 

Click here for more information about the COCWD ASC.

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