Screening For Autism By Age 2

Screening For Autism By Age 2

As a Speech-Language Pathologist having worked with children with different severities of autism, it caught my attention just how much the news/media has talked about it in recent weeks. From Dateline MSNBC to celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Oprah. I’m sure it came back into the media limelight when recent recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that every child be tested for autism twice by the age of 2. This recommendation seems to have brought the media coverage as well as a lot of debate on the subject.

I just wanted to give kudos to the American Academy of Pediatrics for taking on the responsibility of trying to get children screened for autism at a younger age. I have no doubt it is a very scary thing to have to tell a parent you think their child may be autistic and a much more difficult thing for a parent to hear. The good news is early screening and identification means more answers, more help and more intervention that will ultimately lead to a more successful future for that child.

Below are a few helpful resources on autism:
Autism Speaks
The Help Group
National Autism Association
American Pediatrics M-CHAT Sreening Tools
American Pediatrics M-CHAT Scoring Tool (PDF)


  1. I totally agree! I am thrilled that the importance of early intervention and screening is being stressed.
    While it is very hard to hear (and to believe) that your child may have any kind of problem at such a young age, for those who can find out early, accept it, and get treatment right away, can greatly improve their child’s ability to reach their potential. Scientists have proven that even something hard-wired into our genes can be altered in early years (read up on epi-genetics).
    I know from my own experiences how true this is. Though my son isn’t the highest-functioning child in his classroom, I know for a fact that without the early intervention, he would have been among the lowest-functioning. The old adage of wait-and-see can cause families to lose valuable time. While taking a more proactive stance has 0% chance of hurting anything, and a huge chance of making a monumental difference.
    Thanks for the wonderfully accurate and informative blog!
    Best wishes…

  2. Hopefully the campaign will encourage doctors to also listen to the concerns of parents when they are raised. Our child was born extremely prematurely and has numerous delays in every area. We noticed some specific perseverative behaviors which we thought could be signs of autism. Our (now former) pediatrician told us “No, it’s just from the prematurity; he’ll catch up.” Today, Nik is four and has added the diagnosis of ASD to his laundry list of alphabet diagnoses. Had we been with a doc who was not afraid to err on the side of ruling it out, he might have gotten some additional supports that he now badly needs (and we are still trying to get for him). Parents need to be encouraged by their pediatricians to trust their instincts and not be afraid to ask for evaluations when there is ANY question! It’s always nicer to be told early that “No, your child is fine” than LATER be told your child is autistic and “could have really benefit from …”

  3. I agree! Early intervention is crucial for a child to reach his/her full potential. I knew something was wrong with my son at about 14-15 months old, but my pediatrician just said to wait. I didn’t agree with that, so I sought early intervention on my own, and I’m so glad I did. At 3 he was diagnosed with Aspergers and without all the intervention he had recieved early on who knows where we would be.

  4. Such wonderful news 🙂 I hope that many families will be helped by these new guidelines. Obtaining “birth to 3” services (including access to the treatment team professionals) would definitely help families “learn” how to effectively communicate with their child/children (we use PECS), which to our family has been our key to reaching our children, right where they are 🙂

    Have a beautiful day:)

  5. I completely agree! Children should be screened for autism at an earlier age. The earlier the difficulty is found, the sooner intervention can take place and the individual will be steps closer to reaching their full potential. I understand that hearing your child is autistic is heavy news, but I think I would rather know right away so I can can do something about it. I am glad to hear that screening for autism has now changed to 2 years of age. Thank you for sharing!