Screening Strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Pediatric Primary Care

Published October 1, 2008 in Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Pinto-Martin, Young, Mandell, Poghosyan, Giarelli, Levy

Two strategies have been proposed for early identification of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD): (1) using a general screening tool followed by an ASD-specific screening tool for those who screen positive on the former or (2) using an ASD-specific tool for all children. The relative yield of these two strategies has not been examined.

This study compared the number of children identified at risk for ASD at their well child visits between the ages of 18 and 30 months using a general developmental screening tool and an autism-specific screening tool.

The PEDS missed the majority of children who screened positive for ASD on the M-CHAT, suggesting that these two tools tap into very different domains of developmental concerns. The findings support the use of an ASD-specific tool for all children in conjunction with regular standardized developmental screening.

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