A spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by deficits in social interaction, communication, and unusual and repetitive behavior. Some, but not all, people with autism are non-verbal.
Autism is normally diagnosed before age six and may be diagnosed in infancy in some cases. The degree of autism varies from mild to severe in different children.
The cause (or causes) of autism are not yet fully understood. However, it is believed that at least some cases involve an inherited or acquired genetic defect. Researchers have proposed that the immune-system, metabolic, and environmental factors may play an important part as well.
Do you suspect your child might have autism?
The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-Revised (M-CHAT-R™) is a scientifically validated tool for screening children between 16 and 30 months of age that assesses risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is a series of questions for parents to answer about their child:
You need to get a referral to a pediatrician or a psychologist to begin the assessment process (do not take no for an answer from a GP – if you are concerned then you need to have your child checked).
Complete the M-CHAT and bring it with you or send it ahead of time.
Read more about autism assessment in BC HERE
The M-CHAT-R’s primary goal is to detect as many cases of ASD as possible. However, no screening tool is perfect. To improve the accuracy of the tool, the authors developed a structured M-CHAT-R Follow-up Interview™
Even with the follow-up questions, a significant number of children whose results show risk for ASD will not meet the diagnostic criteria on a more comprehensive evaluation by a specialist. Nonetheless, these children are at risk for a range of developmental disorders and delays and should receive further evaluation. A child should likewise be referred for further evaluation any time a parent or professional has persistent concerns about autism, even if the child does not show ASD risk on the M-CHAT-R.