(Click the green button to take the M-CHAT now.) The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (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 and Deborah Fein and clinical psychologist Marianne Barton.
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.
The M-CHAT’s primary goal is to detect as many cases of ASD as possible. Therefore, there is a high false positive rate, meaning that many children who score at risk for ASD will not be diagnosed with ASD. To address this, the authors developed a structured M-CHAT Follow-up InterviewTM (downloadable here).
Even with the follow-up questions, a significant number of children whose results show risk for ASD will not meet the diagnostic criteria on a more comprehensive evaluation by a specialist. Nonetheless, these children are at risk for a range of developmental disorders and delays and, therefore, should receive further evaluation. Conversely, a child should be referred for further evaluation any time a parent or professional has persistent concerns about autism, even if the child does not show ASD risk on the M-CHAT. If you and/or your physician feel that further screening is needed, you can request a free developmental assessment through your state department of health.