Date of Graduation

Winter 12-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Dr. Alette Coble-Temple

Second Advisor

Dr. Dhara Meghani

Third Advisor

Dr. William Bosl


Objective: This systematic review aimed to comprehensively synthesize existing literature on early detection methods for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children birth to 3 years, that lead to an effective and reliable early diagnosis in children 2 to 3 years of age.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted across multiple electronic databases, including PubMed, Scopus, and PsycINFO following PRISMA guidelines. Studies reporting on early detection methods for ASD in infants and toddlers within ages 0 to 3 years that lead to early diagnosis of children ages 2 to 3 years were eligible for inclusion. Data extraction and quality assessment were performed, and relevant studies were synthesized to provide insights into the accuracy, validity, and clinical utility of each early ASD diagnosis method.

Results: The initial search yielded a total of 648 articles, of which 4 studies met the inclusion criteria. The identified studies encompassed various diagnostic approaches, including behavioral assessments, neuroimaging techniques, genetic markers, and screening instruments. Findings suggest that early detection of ASD is feasible, with promising tools and methodologies available for use within the specified age group. However, the accuracy and reliability of these methods vary, highlighting the need for continued research and refinement of diagnostic tools.

Conclusion: Early diagnosis of ASD in children prior to the age of 3 is crucial for initiating timely interventions and improving long-term outcomes. This systematic review underscores that while there is a diversity of early detection methods available, only 4 studies illustrate the effectiveness of early detection methods for diagnostic accuracy before the age of 3. Nonetheless, further research is warranted to enhance the precision and clinical applicability of these approaches. Research examining if early detection methods lead to early diagnosis is lacking, this area of research is needed to facilitate early interventions and understand the developmental trajectory of ASD during early childhood development. Additionally, this study confirms the ongoing health disparities and cultural gap in research connected to early diagnosis of ASD. Future research needs to include a more culturally diverse population and address how to incorporate biomarkers for ASD as a component of early diagnosis accuracy.