New Checklist Furthers Early Intervention

An updated screening test- The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers- has shown to be more accurate in determining whether or not a young child needs further evaluation for autism.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, this free, two-step screening test is intended for regular well-check-ups for children 16 to 30 months old.

The revised checklist consists of 20 questions. Based on the answers given by parents, the child’s risk level for autism is determined. Children determined as high or medium risk are then referred for further evaluation.

“This checklist can more accurately identify children likely to have autism so they can get the treatment and support they need,” said Alice Kau, Ph.D., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Given that the typical autism diagnosis occurs at age 4, it also offers the possibility of detecting autism much earlier — during regular doctor’s visits when a child is 18 months or 2 years old. And earlier intervention has been shown to improve outcomes for children with autism.”

So far, 95 percent of the children determined to be at risk had some form of developmental delay; 47 percent were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The senior author of this finding, Dr. Deborah Fien, worked with a team screening more than 15,000 toddlers.

“Earlier tools cast a wider net,” said Dr. Fein, “but these refinements will allow health care providers to focus energy where it is needed most and will reduce the number of families who go through additional testing but which ultimately do not need treatment interventions.”

Read here for more information on early intervention: http://www.icare4autism.org/news/2013/09/the-earlier-the-better/

Source: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/dec2013/nichd-23.htm

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