Early identification of developmental disorders is vital to the well-being of children and their families. At any time, if a developmental delay is suspected, a child can be referred for further evaluation. If a problem is identified and early intervention is indicated, a child and family can then take advantage of specific therapies, such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy.
What is M-CHAT?
While an assessment of your child’s developmental milestones is part of each well-child exam, at the 18-20 month well-child exam we will ask you to fill out a questionnaire known as M-CHAT. Developed at the University of Connecticut, M-CHAT is widely recognized and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is a screening tool designed to help pediatricians and other primary care professionals with the early identification of children with autism; the name stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. The M-CHAT does not provide a diagnosis, but it can indicate if a child is at risk and should receive further evaluation.
Like all pediatric practitioners, we play an important role in the early recognition of autism spectrum disorders. After your child’s 18-20 month well-visit we will evaluate and score your questionnaire. If there is any concern about your child’s development based on the M-CHAT results we will promptly call you to discuss the findings. If your child requires a referral to a specialist we will discuss with you what steps to take. On occasion, an abnormal score may be a “false positive” and does not indicate an autistic spectrum disorder, or it may point to another developmental issue that needs to be evaluated.
Of course, if you have any concerns about your child’s development, you can speak to your physician or physician assistant at any time. Child development is an integral part of child health and we are here to answer any questions you have about your child’s speech and language or social skills.