You may not even know that at your child’s 18 month Well Child Check your doctor will have you complete an Autism Checklist/Screener called the M-Chat. ( The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-Revised (M-CHAT-R™) ) Yep! Its true. Most of the time, your pediatrican will quickly review the scores and only talk to you about it if there is a concern. (Note: Most pediatricians use the M-CHAT but not all).
So, what is the M-Chat? And what does it involve?
The M-CHAT is a “Scientifically validated tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age that assesses the risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” The great thing about the M-CHAT is that it was created to be administered to parents/guardians and then read and interpreted by a pediatrician.
It is quick and easy and only takes about 5 minutes! You don’t have to wait to go to your pediatrician to be screened. If you are concerned now go ahead and hop on over to M-CHAT.org and take one! You can also get more information on Autism and complete the screening at Autismspeaks.org. BUT, please remember- once you have scores PLEASE discuss them with your pediatrician. This screener was meant to be read by a licensed professional.
Does this count as an Autism Diagnosis? NO! This is only a tool to ASSESS the RISK for Autism. It is only valid when used with children ages 16-30 months of age. However, The earlier the better! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that each child receive Autism-Specific screening between the ages of 18 and 24 months of age.
So what happens after I do the screening?
Once you and your pediatrician discuss the scores you can take further action as necessary. If you and your pediatrician have concerns of Autism further developmental testing can be completed to determine if a diagnosis of Autism or other developmental delay is appropriate.
Where do I go for further Assessment??
Once you have a Diagnosis or once you know there is a delay- there is plenty of help and support! Early Intervention is an incredible tool! Early Intervention works with children ages Birth-3 years. An Early Intervention professional will come into your home to perform a developmental assessment (free of charge). To reach Early Intervention contact your State Health Department or Local School District.
If you and your physician agree that further screening is needed, you can request a free developmental assessment through your State Department of Health. We provide the contact information for your state’s local Early Intervention coordinator on your child’s M-CHAT-R/F report. All Early Interventions work slightly different but each assessment will most likely include a physical exam, cognitive, hearing, and speech assessment as well as other areas of development.
As always, with concerns, problems or issues, contact your pediatrician!