Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism are both terms used to categorise a group of complex disorders of brain development. This includes autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome however since the release of the DSM-5 diagnostic all these diagnoses have been merged into the one umbrella diagnosis of ASD term. Autism is characterized by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
ASD can be associated with a number of co morbidities such as intellectual disability, difficulties with motor skills and coordination, difficulties with maintaining attention as well as associated physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. There are also a number of individuals with Autism who excel at visual tasks, music, math and art.
Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. It is important to gain a diagnosis at this age as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve communication and behavioral outcomes significantly.
The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-Revised (M-CHAT-R) is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age. The M-CHAT-R assesses your child’s risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by answering 20 simple questions regarding your child’s current behavior and communication. The original version of the M-CHAT was jointly developed by a clinical psychologist Marianne Barton and neuropsychologists Diana Robins and Deborah Fein, with the latest version revised in December 2013.
It is recommended that all children receive autism screening at 18 and 24 months of age. The M-CHAT-R is quick and easy way and is one of the screening tools recommended American Academy of Pediatrics to do so. It is important however to note that the M-CHAT-R is a screener and only indicates if your child is at risk. If your child is at risk, it is advised that you visit a health care provider such as a Paediatrician or Clinical Psychologist to gain a definitive diagnosis and seek the necessary health care professionals such as a Speech Pathologist and Occupational therapist to assist with the child’s communication and behavior challenges.
Click below to take the M-Chat now if you are concerned that your child may have Autism: