Today in the New York Times there was a very brief article about the use of a Questionnaire to detect Autism earlier. The New York Times did a very nice job summarizing the findings of the research.
The questionnaire used in this study was the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist (CSVS-DPIT-Checklist). Despite the focus on Autism in this article, the questionnaire is actually used to assess a range of disorders including language delays, Autism, and global developmental delays. In the study, pediatricians had parents complete the questionnaire for their child at the child’s 1 year pediatric check-up. The staff at the pediatrician’s office then scored the questionnaire and reported to the doctor whether or not the child “failed” the questionnaire (indicating some sort of delay). If the child failed the parent was given a flyer referring them for treatment at the Autism Center of Excellence.
The main point from this study was that while there were some false-positives (meaning children “failed” the screening and did not end up being diagnosed with Autism later) the use of this questionnaire and screening did identify children as early as 12 months with developmental delays and got them into treatment programs earlier! Generally, children are not diagnosed with Autism until they are over 2 years and therefore do not receive treatment until then, but with this screening tool children more children may be able to start treatment for disorders at earlier ages. Also important to note, the pediatricians that participated in this study are continuing to use the screening tool at the children’s 1 year old check-up.