For Flagging Autism Risk, Using Two Tests is Best Option

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
June 20, 2014

The average child with autism is 18 months old before his or her parents first begin to be concerned. Given the importance of early intervention, it’s crucial that parents and doctors both catch on to the symptoms as soon as possible. A study published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that two autism screens are better than one at identifying toddlers who need specialized clinical services. These screens, such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) and the Early Screening of Autistic Traits (ESAT), are used not to diagnose autism, but rather to identify children who need more specialized attention — for example, from a child psychiatrist or a behavioral therapist.