Publication Date


Document Type

Student Project

First Advisor

Gladfelter, Allison

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)


School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders


Although autism can be reliably diagnosed by 18 months of age, long wait times and limited access to qualified providers prevent families from obtaining diagnostic services. Trained speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are qualified to diagnose autism, ideally as part of a multidisciplinary team. SLPs working on early intervention (EI) teams are well-situated to help close this diagnostic wait time gap. The purpose of this survey study was to explore EI SLPs’ experiences serving autistic children on their caseloads, confidence in identifying and diagnosing autism, and potential barriers/facilitators to increasing diagnostic confidence and decreasing wait times. 287 EI SLPs from 23 states responded to survey questions about experiences, beliefs, and confidence in diagnosing autism. Results indicated that an overwhelming majority felt confident in their ability to identify autism in toddlers. However, reported confidence in their ability to diagnose autism was much lower. Greater awareness of diagnosis as within our scope of practice, promoting autism acceptance (reducing caregiver resistance), and access to diagnostic tool training and diagnostic experts would reportedly increase confidence.