The purpose of screening is to find a health problem early and treat it. Screening for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is recommended during regular check ups for children aged 18 and 24 months. (Other developmental screening may be done at 9, 18, and 30 months.)
The doctor will look for problems that are common with ASD such as social and language skills, and behavior. The doctor may play or talk to your child. You will be asked questions about your child’s development.
This is a good time for you to talk openly to your child's doctor. You may have concerns about how your child is growing and behaving. Tell the doctor if you think your child is not developing normally or has regressed. It is very important to share these concerns as soon as you notice them.
There are many questionnaires and tests to screen for ASD. A common test is called Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). It is a group of questions answered by a parent. Sample M-CHAT questions are:
If your child is at high risk for ASD, screening may be done more often. High risk includes:
Autism spectrum disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml. Updated March 2018. Accessed August 16, 2019.
Autism spectrum disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113665/Autism-spectrum-disorders. Updated July 1, 2019. Accessed August 16, 2019.
How pediatricians screen for autism. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/Autism/Pages/How-Doctors-Screen-for-Autism.aspx. Updated February 18, 2016. Accessed August 16, 2019.
Screening and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html. Updated April 26, 2018. Accessed August 16, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 8/16/2019