Autism. It is a mental disorder in the United States that has gained more and more awareness over the last few decades.
There are over 5.4 million adults in the United States that have autism.
However, there are signs of autism at an early age. Tests like the M-CHAT-R allow parents to see if their child is at risk for autism as young as 16 months old.
What is this test? How efficient is it at autism screening?
This is your guide.
What Is the M-CHAT-R?
Before we can talk about the efficiency of the M-CHAT-R test, you need to understand exactly what it is.
M-CHAT-R stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers Revised. The test has been around long enough that this is not the first version of it to come out.
How this works is that parents of the child suspected to have autism will take this test. The test has 20 questions and it represents an autism checklist if you will. These are simple yes or no questions, so it should not take long to complete the test.
As parents, you need to answer these questions as honestly as possible. It will go over certain behaviors that an autistic child may exhibit. We will talk more about this later.
After those 20 questions are answered, you will get the results back almost instantly. Then, if your child is at medium or high risk for autism, there may be some additional questions that you will have to answer.
Some parents may be skeptical about behavioral signs showing up in children that are under two years old. However, behavioral signs of autism can show up in children as young as 12 months old.
With that in mind, parents should get ahead of this sooner rather than later to act on it if their child does test positive for signs of autism.
Is This a Diagnosis?
No, the M-CHAT-R is not an official autism diagnosis. That has to be done by a professional.
This is simply an online autism screening that can make parents aware of possible warning signs that their child has autism. If parents answer the questions honestly and the result comes back positive, the test merely recommends that parents take further action.
Benefits of M-CHAT-R
What are the biggest benefits of the M-CHAT-R test? Well, arguably the biggest benefit is that it allows parents to start taking action as early as possible if they get a positive result.
This is because this test can be done for children as young as 16 months old. Considering that signs of autism do not typically show up until at least 12 months after birth, this can be a fast timeline.
Also, there is a high level of convenience in taking this test. Parents do not have to leave their homes and children do not have to go to a professional’s office to get evaluated.
Possible Signs of Autism
So, what are some signs that you should look out for as a parent? Well, for children under two years old, a few things come to mind.
The first sign should be if a child struggles to give eye contact to you. This is especially the case if the child can’t even give that eye contact to someone close that they trust like their parents.
Another thing you need to look out for is the level of verbal communication that your child has. It could be alarming if your child has no verbal communication by the time they are 18-24 months old or if it suddenly drops off.
Communication skills can extend to nonverbal communication as well. Keep an eye on these things and consider taking this test for your child if any of these signs relate to your child.
So, you got the results of your M-CHAT-R test and it showed a risk of your child having autism What do you do next?
The next thing you need to do is have a follow-up evaluation. This can be done over the phone by a professional.
What they will do here is ask you some additional questions about your child. Again, your job here is to be as honest as possible. Once that evaluation over the phone is done, you will get your results.
If those results come back positive for signs of autism again, you will have to take further action.
Getting an Official Autism Diagnosis
If your child shows signs of autism during the test and the follow-up evaluation, it is time to go see a professional for an official diagnosis.
There are two main differences with this stage. The first is that the professional can observe the child in person. This means that they will get a direct look at their behavior and they can even try to ask the child questions themselves.
From there, the professional can give their official diagnosis and let the parents know if they believe their child has autism.
Get an Evaluation
So, you have taken the M-CHAT-R test for your child and it came back positive. You noticed the signs of autism and the test may have confirmed some suspicions. The follow-up interview may have gone similarly for you.
What do you do now? Get an evaluation with us and find out if your child has autism or not.
Doing this can help give you peace of mind if your child does not have autism. If they do have autism, you can use this resource to take the next step.