First Steps

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How do I get my child screened for autism?

Does your child show signs of autism? Do you wonder about his or her development?

We encourage you to get your child screened promptly.

You can request an autism screening anytime from your doctor or your state’s Early Intervention program.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children get screened for autism at their 18- and 24-month exams – and whenever a parent or doctor has concerns.

Meanwhile, you can complete the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-Revised (M-CHAT-R™). It takes just a few minutes to assess the likelihood of autism. And you can take the results to your doctor.

Talk with your healthcare provider. Screening doesn’t diagnose autism. It flags behaviors often associated with the condition. After screening, your doctor can refer you to a specialist for a diagnostic evaluation.

Importantly, you don’t need to wait for a diagnosis for your child to receive services. Federal law requires states to provide therapy whenever screening identifies developmental delays or learning challenges.

Get our First Concern to Action Tool Kit.

How do I get autism services?

If your child’s screening for autism identifies developmental delays or learning challenges, he or she is entitled to intervention services. You can start these services before your child receives an autism diagnosis.

If your child is under the age of 3, you can get services through your state’s Early Intervention program.

For children ages 3 to 21, you can get services through your school district’s Special Education office.

Get started with these resources

Are you an adult or teen?

Do you suspect that your feelings and behaviors involve autism? Many people who have autism with lower support needs go undiagnosed until adulthood. Find out more in our "Adult Autism Diagnosis Tool Kit: A guide for identifying autism in adults and figuring out what comes next".

Download the Adult Tool Kit