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ASQ and MCHAT Developmental Screening

asq-and-mchat-screeningsA few weeks before your appointment for ages 4 mo, 9 mo, 12 mo, 24 and 36 mo checkups, you should receive an email or phone call regarding the ASQ screening. At the 18 month well visit, a similar form, the MCHAT—a specific screener for Autism—will be given to you at your appointment. Both of the screening tools are designed to be completed prior to your appointment.

Why are the ASQ and MCHAT important?

In addition to asking questions of parents about the general development of their child at the well child check, the AAP recommends pediatricians perform screening with standardized tests which have been vigorously validated as good tools to differentiate a developmental delay, or, specifically, Autism, at 18 months. Great things about the ASQ and MCHAT questionnaires are that they're available in multiple languages, are easily scored, have good psychometric qualities and are very commonly used.

We want the screening tools to be available to all parents at any time, as questions arise frequently in-between doctor visits and parents are often the best judges of their child's development while observing their child in their home environment. Thus, parents can check this site for the ASQ questionnaires.


From Dr. Chafen Hart’s blog:
An overview for the parent: Autism and screening for developmental delay

There are many signs of Autism and an experienced clinician who has seen many cases will recognize subtle clues in the behavior of an infant; however, most of the time the child presents to the pediatrician after the parents have noticed deficits related to communication. Infants with autism may not hold their arms up to be lifted or held, may not learn to jabber in a conversational way with their parent, often do not point to indicate wants or needs and avoid eye contact. Many will not be interested in or play with regular toys in a normal way and may be very visually oriented—responding to visual stimuli like light coming through a window with fascination which can last hours. Some can be very difficult colicky babies and others very easy-going.

After the age of one, the child with Autism typically has trouble developing language. They may not respond to their name or any verbal cues from a parent, they often cannot follow commands like "bring me your shoes," and they may have trouble communicating wants and needs. For example, some will lead their parent by the hand to the refrigerator for milk instead of verbalizing or gesturing. They may enjoy books because it combines communication with visual interest and may be completely engrossed by T.V. Motor skills are often impaired as autistic children may not be able to operate a tricycle or be able to jump or skip. They often have great difficulty with simple imitation and retreat to repetitive play routines when challenged. Some line up colors or trains, form patterns with sticks or crayons and can play by themselves happily rearranging over and over again objects which are visually interesting or feel good to touch. Occasionally autistic children have repetitive self-soothing activities like running a car over their arms over and over, or rubbing their face with a blanket in a certain pattern. They require more physical reassurance from parents and may be very threatened by new places, smells or sounds.

To read more of her blog, click here.

It's extremely important to identify these children early. The ASQ and M-CHAT help us do this. Most insurance companies are reimbursing for providing or discussing these screening tools. However, regardless of insurance companies' reimbursement policies, we feel using formal screens as part of the well child check visit is an important AAP guideline, and a much more effective and objective measure of your child's development in which the parent plays a critical part.