The Influence of Health-care Professionals’ Specialization and Child’s Gender on the Recognition of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Young Children
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Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are difficult to recognize in young children. If ASD symptoms are not recognized, the diagnostic process is unlikely to be initiated, which may lead to missed diagnosis and, in turn, long-term negative outcomes. This study aimed to investigate how different health-care professionals’ (HCPs’) specializations (psychologist, pedagogue, and pediatrician) influence the recognition of ASD in young children between 3 and 10 years old, whether recognition of ASD differs between boys and girls, and if there is an interaction effect between HCPs’ specialization and child’s gender which influences the ability to recognize ASD. Participants (N = 306) evaluated a series of vignettes describing children with symptoms of ASD. Results show that psychologists are better able to recognize ASD than pediatricians, but not better than pedagogues. Unexpectedly, child’s gender did not influence the recognition of ASD. More attention needs to be paid to mental health problems in pediatric care and to more extensive research into gender differences in ASD.