Which screening tests are used to in the diagnostic evaluation for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Procedures are available for diagnostic screening by practicing pediatricians, including the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) and its revisions, the Modified CHAT (MCHAT) and the Quantitative CHAT (QCHAT). [111, 112] Some items of the CHAT appear to have strong cultural biases that rule out the direct application of this instrument to populations outside the United Kingdom; however, cross-cultural adaptions of CHAT have been prepared. [125]

However, the 3 items of the CHAT that are highly predictive of the development of autistic disorder (ie, protodeclarative pointing, gaze monitoring, pretend play) can be quickly assessed by clinicians during well-baby visits (see Presentation for detailed descriptions of these items). Pediatricians can facilitate early diagnosis of autistic disorder and related conditions by performing a screening procedure at every visit, including well-baby check-ups, school examinations, and immunization appointments.

Assessment of motor and self-care skills in children with autism is recommended to address clumsiness and sensory issues. [126] If a standardized test to assess sensory processing difficulties is warranted, one of the following tools is recommended [127] :

  • Sensory Processing Measure - For children aged 5-12 years

  • Short Sensory Profile - For children aged 37 months to 9 years

  • Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile - For children aged 7-36 months

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