NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 7, 2012) – Autism Speaks is pleased to announce the launch of an automated version of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, or M-CHAT™. The M-CHAT is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age to assess their risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It was developed by neuropsychologists Diana Robins, Ph.D. and Deborah Fein, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist Marianne Barton, Ph.D. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children receive autism screening at 18 and 24 months of age, and the M-CHAT is one of the AAP’s recommended tools.
Dr. Robins worked closely with Autism Speaks’ science staff and web team to ensure this online automated version of the M-CHAT is a useful tool that parents can use if they are concerned about their toddler’s development and whether their child should be evaluated by a healthcare provider or developmental specialist. It is not intended to take the place of screening and diagnosis by a trained professional.
The M-CHAT’s primary goal is to detect as many cases of ASD as possible. Therefore, a significant number of children whose results show increased risk for ASD will not be diagnosed with ASD after receiving a more comprehensive evaluation by a specialist. However, a high M-CHAT score suggests that a toddler is at risk for a range of developmental disorders and delays and, therefore, should receive further assessment and, when appropriate, the earliest possible intervention to improve outcomes.
The automated M-CHAT now available on the Autism Speaks website offers free online scoring and recommendations. Parents can review, print and save the results to share with their child’s doctor or other developmental specialist.
Autism Speaks urges parents to know the signs of autism, and offers information about treatments for ASD. The Autism Speaks video glossary offers a view of behaviors associated with autism and treatments often used in early intervention. The Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit and the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit were created specifically for newly diagnosed families to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child's diagnosis of autism or ASD/HFA and the Tools You Can Use webpage offers additional resources which can be downloaded for free. Families in need of personalized supports can reach out to the Autism Response Team which is specially trained to connect families with information, resources and opportunities. The ART can be reached at 888-288-4762 or en Español 888-772-9050 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $173 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.