FastStart Checklist Concerned that a child is exhibiting signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder? This list serves as a general guideline for obtaining support through the evaluation and initial treatment process. An abbreviated version can be found here, in the FastStart Bulleted List.
The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) is a tool that many pediatricians and diagnosticians use to assess the risk of autism in children between the ages of 16 and 30 months.
“Helping You Through the Evaluation of Your Child”, published by the Utah Autism Initiative
What is autism? In the words of one mom it is…
Autism is a brain disorder that primarily affects communication, social skills and behaviors. Sometimes kids with autism also have repetitive language (called echolalia); or hand flapping, twirling or rocking. Many people with autism have little or no eye contact and seem to be uninterested in relationships. The autism spectrum is huge! It affects everybody differently. I heard that “once you’ve met a person with autism, you’ve met ONE person with autism.” If your child is displaying some of these signs, don’t self-diagnose. Use our FastStart Checklist to find out what to do next.
What is autism?
From Autism Speaks (http://www.autismspeaks.org/whatisit/index.php)
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
How common is autism?
Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually. There is not established explanation for this increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered. Studies suggest boys are more likely than girls to develop autism and receive the diagnosis three to four times more frequently. Current estimates are that in the United States alone, one out of 70 boys is diagnosed with autism.
What causes autism?
The simple answer is we don’t know. The vast majority of cases of autism are idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown.
The more complex answer is that just as there are different levels of severity and combination of symptoms in autism, there are probably multiple causes. The best scientific evidence available to us today points toward a potential for various combinations of factors causing autism – multiple genetic components that may cause autism on their own or possibly when combined with exposure to as yet undetermined environmental factors. Timing of exposure during the child’s development (before, during or after birth) may also play a role in the development or final presentation of the disorder.