Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M – CHAT)

In the last post, we discussed a screening tool called CHAT, this is a continuation of that post and here we will be discussing the modified checklist for autism in toddlers (M-CHAT). This screening tool is prepared for babies who fall under the age limit of 16-30 months.

As the name suggests, this screening method is a modified version of the previous one. Using this checklist even the mild symptoms of Autism in children can be detected. This checklist is prepared in a way that any developmental disorder can be identified at its initial stage in any particular kid.

Even though M-CHAT is highly efficient in recognizing the symptoms of autism or any similar disorder, the chances of errors and false interpretations are very high while using this process. Also, this checklist does not confirm or accurately points out the actual issue.

In order to minimize the errors of M-CHAT, experts have now come up with an idea of follow up questions which they call the “M-CHAT-R/F” where parents or the guardian of the kid answers a few questions based on their observation in order to better understand the children’s condition.

Scoring and Analysis

M-CHAT is mainly a questionnaire sheet that contains about 20 questions which must be filled by the parent or the guardian of a kid, based on the result of this test, scores are decided which gives us an idea about the possibility of the kid being affected by ASD.

When a medium or a high risk is detected using M-CHAT, their parents or guardians are interviewed by a child specialist so that the exact problem could be identified.

The scoring is done based on the “Yes” or “No” input by the guardian of the kid in response to the questionnaire. In order to get the minimum risk results, all the questions must get the “Yes” answer except the question number 2, 5 and 12. If any of these three questions get a “Yes” response, then the chances of the child being affected by ASD increases.

Risk Factors

As we have already mentioned, all the questions except three in the checklist must receive “Yes” response otherwise for each mismatch the score keeps on increasing. The higher the score gets, the greater is the risk of autism.

1 – Low Risk

The risk of autism is low when the score is below 2. If the child has not yet crossed the 2-year age mark then you should again perform this screening once you have celebrated their second birthday.

If you find that they are consistently showing the signs of autism, then we highly recommend you to take your kid to the child specialist as soon as possible.

2 – Medium Risk

The score of 3-7 falls under this category. Since the M-CHAT checklist is not very accurate when a medium risk is detected the parent should immediately meet with a child specialist for the follow-up interview.

After the interview, if the score still remains greater than 2 then this indicates that the child might be affected by ASD and they must be immediately sent for further diagnosis.

If in the follow-up interview the score remains below 2 then we can infer that the kid is not affected by Autism at present, but you should again perform the screening if the symptoms are seen in the future.

3 – High Risk

A score above 8 comes under the high-risk category so when this happens you must immediately go for the follow-up interview and then take the child for further diagnosis.

 

Another such checklist is the CSBS-DP(The Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales – Developmental Profile) which uses 7 language predictors for the screening process. For knowing more about ASD diagnosis processes, we highly recommend you to read “Social and Communication Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders”.

Here’s a Youtube video for you on M-CHAT:-

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