The M-CHAT-R screener for autism is one of the best modern tools for early diagnosis.
So what is the M-CHAT-R exactly, then? In this guide, we’ll cover the following:
- What is the M-CHAT-R assessment?
- What is the M-CHAT test used for?
- What age can you take the M-CHAT-R?
- What questions are on the M-CHAT-R?
- Who do you talk to about the M-CHAT-R?
What is the M-CHAT-R Assessment?
The M-CHAT-R stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised. It is a 20-question screener that asks about your child’s behaviors so that you and your doctors know whether a further evaluation is needed.
The M-CHAT-R is taken at home and must be used entirely for more accurate results. The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed the test, and while it is not a form of autism diagnosis, it is a strong screening tool that can lead to more acute follow-up with your child’s pediatrician.
What is the M-CHAT Test Used For?
The original M-CHAT has been used as a parent-reporting screener for decades now – it was a 23-item test that parents could complete in several minutes and was primarily used to screen for autism from home. The modified version is similar in scope but updated for modern practices to remove agreement bias and simplify the language.
The M-CHAT-R primarily addresses the following:
- Behavioral interest
- Developmental history
- Response mechanisms
Ultimately, the new version – the M-CHAT-R, is a two-part test recommended to gauge whether a parent or family should pursue an autism evaluation for toddlers. It still gives essential information for diagnosis purposes and can functionally speed up the evaluation and diagnosis process for medical and psychological professionals.
What Age Can You Take the M-CHAT-R?
Parents are recommended to administer the M-CHAT-R test as a screening assessment to toddlers between 16-30 months of age to gauge the child’s risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While no regulations surround the time periods the M-CHAT-R is given, many autism clinics or medical professionals will not qualify the validity of results outside the window of 16-30 months.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s age and potential screening options, it is always advised to contact an ABA clinic near you to learn more. Other age-appropriate autism screening processes for children vary by age and developmental patterns.
What Questions Are on the M-CHAT-R?
The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (revised) is a copyrighted instrument developed by Dr. Diana Robins.
It continues to be updated and revised (hence the R in the name), but the questions cover topics such as:
- How your toddler responds to their name
- What your toddler likes and dislikes environmentally
- If your child makes eye contact at appropriate times
- If your child behaves as if they cannot speak or hear
Who Do You Talk to About the M-CHAT-R?
Because the M-CHAT-R is specifically designed to screen autism risk for toddlers, there are relatively linear paths of who to talk to. Once you have administered the M-CHAT-R at home and viewed your score, you will need to speak to a medical professional to get properly referred for an autism screening.
Some of the professional settings included in an autism evaluation may consist of the following:
- Specialized autism clinics
- Pediatric psychologists
- Speech-language therapists
- Early intervention state programs
- Developmental specialists
We recommend starting the process by talking to your family doctor or pediatrician to get adequately referred to a specialist.