Six Key Questions Provide a Quick Screen for Autism: Two Negative Prompt Referral

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- There are 23 questions on the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, but physicians can use just the 6 key questions to screen quickly for autism, Janet E. Farmer, Ph.D., said at a meeting on common pediatric problems sponsored by the University of Missouri--Columbia.

A negative answer to any two of these six key questions indicates that the child should be referred to a specialist for a detailed evaluation for autism.

However, two negative answers do not mean that the child is necessarily autistic.

Although the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is designed for use in children aged 18 months, it can be useful in children up to age 3 years who have developmental delays and in those up to age 5 who have impaired social skills, said Dr. Farmer of the university.

Here are the six key questions to ask parents:

1. Does your child take an interest in other children?

2. Does your child ever use his/her index finger to point, to indicate interest in something?

3. Does your child ever bring objects over to you to show you something?

4. Does your child imitate you? For example, if you make a face, will your child imitate it?

5. Does your child respond to his/her name when you call?

6. If you point to a toy across the room, does your child look at it?

Once primary care physicians have referred children with suspected autism for evaluation and treatment, their role becomes that of ongoing problem solver and advocate. …