Autism Screening – Using the M-CHAT Autism Checklist

Do you think your child may have autism, or has someone suggested that your child may be autistic? Take the concern seriously. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders: the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that it may affect 1 out of 59 kids in the US.

Early autism screening and diagnosis can make a huge difference in your child’s quality of life. The M-CHAT autism checklist can help you recognize potential ASD warning signs.

Importance of Early Autism Screening

You know your child better than anyone, but a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Pediatrics found that “providers often inappropriately reassure families who need ASD specialty consultation.” As a result, autism diagnosis can be delayed up to 3 years in some children.

That’s too much time to waste. Early autism screening and treatment leads to more positive outcomes for children and their families. For example:

  • Social skills: With early intervention, such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), children can learn and practice socially significant behaviors like making eye contact, interacting with playmates, and conversation – skills that most children learn instinctively.
  • Parental engagement: Children with autism often withdraw from personal contact and communications, parents and other adults often do the same. A trained Board Certified Behavioral Analyst can help parents learn the skills they need to help their children.

Autism is a lifelong condition, but early assessment and treatment is extremely effective.

Early Identification with the M-CHAT Autism Checklist

Children can exhibit signs of ASD as early at 12 months of age, so it’s important to be alert to symptoms in toddlers and older children. However, the presence of one or two symptoms doesn’t automatically point to autism. It’s normal for children to develop motor skills at different rates. Social maturity also varies. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between slow development and behavioral characteristics associated with autism.

If you’re worried about your child, the M-CHAT can help.

M-CHAT stands for “Modified Checklist for autism in Toddlers.” This autism assessment test only takes a few minutes to complete. M-CHAT is a 20-question test that looks for multiple signs of ASD and assesses the risk in toddlers aged 16-30 months. Your child doesn’t have to be present when you take our online assessment. You answer the questions yourself to the best of your ability, based on your observations of your child.

If your child scores in the medium to high-risk range, there’s a follow-up portion with additional questions.

How Reliable is the M-CHAT?

M-CHAT is not a diagnosis, but it does highlight warning signs of autism. The checklist is designed for self-assessment only. It’s not as thorough or objective as an autism screening performed by a trained clinician. Even so, M-CHAT is widely recommended by autism support groups, including Autism Speaks.

If your M-CHAT results suggest that your child is in the medium to high-risk range, consider consulting a medical professional who has experience with ASD. Our trained clinicians can offer a more detailed assessment about where your child falls on the autism spectrum.

Let us help. We can answer your questions, provide guidance about your next steps, and help you sort through treatment options.

Take the M-CHAT Test

You’ve Taken the M-CHAT. What’s Next?

If the results of the M-CHAT shows that your child could be high-risk, we recommend that you consult a clinician who has been trained in autism assessment. Behavioral Innovations can help you schedule a diagnostic evaluation. We also offer autism assessments to families in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, College Station, and Denver.

If you are seeking autism evaluations and diagnostic assistance in the Houston, San Antonio, Austin, or Denver region, please reach out to us by submitting a brief form. Schedule your evaluation today!

At Behavioral-Innovations, we’re a pioneer in ABA treatment with over 20 years’ experience. Our Board Certified Behavioral Analysts work with you and your child to help you both adapt to the challenges you face. Research shows that over 90% of children who receive advanced ABA therapy for autism show substantial improvement compared to the control group.

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