Chicago Speech Therapy: How accurate is the M-CHAT?

What is the M-CHAT?

The M-CHAT, or the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, is a test used for toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age to screen for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).  Developed and copyrighted by Dr. Diana Robbins Ph.D. and translated into over 30 languages, the M-CHAT was designed for parents to administer to their children, but is also currently administered by physicians at wellness appointments.  If you do perform the test at home, be sure to share your results with your family physician, regardless of the outcome.

Overall you need to remember that this is a tool to be used to give you a clearer picture of the conditions or symptoms at hand, not the entire answer.  Many have used this to identify issues and take the next step in their child’s health care needs.  The developers of this test are still working out better ways to score and make the test the best reliable source possible, but that will still leave room for error (just like any other test).

Treating Symptoms of Autism

Autism itself is a disorder with a wide variance of symptoms for each individual diagnosed; this is why it is named a “spectrum” disorder.  There is no single treatment or cure for autism; however, there are therapies known to treat and have the most success with each type of symptom.  The M-CHAT can give you and your physician a clearer picture of which area your child is most affected.  Since autism affects social behavior and language, there are corresponding therapies to develop each area.

If your child fails the M-CHAT, this does not necessarily confirm autism.  While he or she may show certain symptoms that are characteristic of the condition, there are also other diagnoses that yield similar symptoms.  As always, you should follow up with a medical examination by a licensed physician. If one or more of the symptoms involve disordered speech or communication disorder, the best thing to do is to contact a speech-language therapist as soon as possible.