Strategy for a Service Model for Early Identification of Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Ethnic Communities in Southern Israel

Orly Kerub, Nadav Davidovitch, Anat Rosenthal, Eric J. Haas, Idan Menashe

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


The occurrence of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is increasing worldwide. Early
detection is a precondition for effective intervention, enabling significant improvements
in functioning. However, in Israel and in other countries, ASD is underreported in ethnic
minorities. In Israel, toddlers undergo general developmental screening by public
health nurses (PHNs) at maternal and child health centers (MCHCs). Nevertheless,
there are disparities among ethnic groups in the reported incidence of ASD.
Using an ecological model, we identify strategies that improve the screening for ASD in
minorities by investigating the social factors influencing diagnosis.
We conducted in-depth interviews with 18 policymakers and service providers and 3
FGs of PHNs and pediatricians. Results we used to construct a service model for
identifying toddlers with ASD.
Each of the three ecological levels contains factors that affect screening. On the
macro level, of policymakers, factors include clear official policy, ideology, values, and
goals and professional identification of the PHNs, and the MCHCs as the exclusive
institution involved in assessing ASD. On the meso level, of service providers, the key
factors are actualizing the professional potential of the PHNs and case management.
On the micro level, the main factor is that the population utilizes the services and
complies with its recommendations. We established a correlation between the nurses’
values and objectives, and their case management. Actualizing their professional
potential influenced the population’s compliance.
On the macro level, there is a need to determine a clear policy supported by the
requisite budget and professional staff, while maintaining and developing the strengths
of the MCHCs. On the meso level, there is a need to use specific tools for ASD
screening, along with professional training .
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 30 Mar 2020

Publication series

NameSSRN 3566167


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