The M-CHAT Screener for Autism Risk

M-CHAT-R Screening Test

The M-CHAT-R is a screening test for autism intended for toddlers between 16-30 months of age. Please answer all of the following questions about your child. Keep in mind how your child usually behaves. If you have seen your child do the behavior a few times, but he or she does not usually do it, then please answer no.

The M-CHAT-R screening test is used with permission and copyrighted 2009 from Diana Robins, Deborah Fein, & Marianne Barton.

If you point at something across the room, does your child look at it? (For example, if you point at a toy or an animal, does your child look at the toy or animal?)
Have you ever wondered if your child might be deaf?
Does your child play pretend or make-believe? (For example, pretend to drink from an empty cup, pretend to talk on a phone, or pretend to feed a doll or stuffed animal?)
Does your child like climbing on things? (For example, furniture, playground equipment, or stairs)
Does your child make unusual finger movements near his or her eyes? (For example, does your child wiggle his or her fingers close to his or her eyes?)
Does your child point with one finger to ask for something or to get help? (For example, pointing to a snack or toy that is out of reach)
Does your child point with one finger to show you something interesting? (For example, pointing to an airplane in the sky or a big truck in the road)
Is your child interested in other children? (For example, does your child watch other children, smile at them, or go to them?)
Does your child show you things by bringing them to you or holding them up for you to see – not to get help, but just to share? (FOR EXAMPLE, showing you a flower, a stuffed animal, or a toy truck)
Does your child respond when you call his or her name? (For example, does he or she look up, talk or babble, or stop what he or she is doing when you call his or her name?)
When you smile at your child, does he or she smile back at you?
Does your child get upset by everyday noises? (For example, does your child scream or cry to noise such as a vacuum cleaner or loud music?)
Does your child walk?
Does your child look you in the eye when you are talking to him or her, playing with him or her, or dressing him or her?
Does your child try to copy what you do? (For example, wave bye-bye, clap, or make a funny noise when you do)
If you turn your head to look at something, does your child look around to see what you are looking at?
Does your child try to get you to watch him or her? (FOR EXAMPLE, does your child look at you for praise, or say “look” or “watch me”?)
Does your child understand when you tell him or her to do something? (For example, if you don't point, can your child understand "put the book on the chair" or "bring me the blanket"?)
If something new happens, does your child look at your face to see how you feel about it? (For example, if he or she hears a strange or funny noise, or sees a new toy, will he or she look at your face?)
Does your child like movement activities? (For example, being swung or bounced on your knee)


Testing for autism

  • How is autism tested for and diagnosed?

    It typically involves a test or assessment from a child psychologist or clinician who specializes in autism. If you are concerned that your child may have autism or have been told by a health care professional to seek out an autism assessment, call us at Soar Autism Center at 720-706-3396 or ask your pediatrician for a recommendation.

  • How do I get my child evaluated or tested for autism?

    Typically a child psychologist or other clinician who specializes in autism testing and assessments can perform an evaluation. We offer this service at Soar Autism Center with our psychologist Dr. Abby Wischkaemper. We also have a list of other diagnostic providers in the greater Denver area for parents in our new parent kit.

  • What happens at an autism assessment?

    Usually a standardized assessment or test is used in combination with a clinician’s independent judgment. During the assessment, the clinician will play with the child and watch for certain characteristics seen in children with autism. Assessments should be fun, and a child shouldn’t know they are being tested. The specific assessment used will vary depending on who evaluates your child, but examples of common assessments used in the US include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2nd edition (ADOS-2), Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), Childhood Autism Rating Scale-2nd edition (CARS-2), and Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS).

  • How much does an autism evaluation cost?

    Autism tests are typically covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicaid. The specific cost will vary based on the details of your health insurance plan (e.g., co-pays, deductibles). If you are wondering about the cost of an assessment with us, call us at 720-706-3396 and we can check your insurance benefits for you.

  • I'm not sure if my child needs an evaluation or not, what should I do?

    Call us at 720-706-3396 and talk to one of our intake specialists who can help assess if an evaluation with Dr. Abby is a good fit for your child. You can also talk to your pediatrician or other health care provider for their recommendations.

  • Is there an autism symptoms checklist or signs of autism checklist I can use with my child?

    Check out the signs of autism infographic that is on our Screening page. It shows different signs and symptoms of autism by age, as well as symptoms that can show at many different ages. We also have videos of neurotypical development from the CDC.

  • What is the M-CHAT or M-CHAT-R/F?

    The M-CHAT is also known as the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers. It is a screening test used to identify children who may be at risk for autism, and is focused on toddlers (typically 16 to 30 months of age). It consists of a series of questions that the parent answers about their child and is often done at a well-child visit with a pediatrician. It does not officially diagnose a child with autism but indicates possible risk of autism and that a diagnostic assessment may be beneficial for the child. You can take it online on our website here.

  • My child had a high M-CHAT score, what do I do next?

    You should consult a health care provider, including your pediatrician and/or a specialized provider who can evaluate for an autism assessment. We offer this service at Soar Autism Center, and we also have a list of other Colorado providers who perform diagnostic testing in our new parent kit.

  • Overview of autism

  • What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that leads to characteristic differences in socialization and communication as well as characteristic behaviors (as defined by DSM-5). It is a spectrum disorder meaning that there is a highly varied set of symptoms among people with autism and varying degrees of severity.

  • What Is Asperger's syndrome?

    Asperger’s syndrome used to be a separate diagnosis from autism, but has been brought under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in recent definitions of ASD in the DSM-5. Asperger’s tends to refer to people on the less severe side of the autism spectrum, and though the term is no longer used in health care settings, some people may still use it from time to time to describe more mild forms of autism.

  • What causes autism?

    The underlying biology in the brains of people with autism is not fully understood by researchers and scientists, and a single underlying process in the brain has not been found. The general consensus among scientists is that genetic factors cause changes in brain structure and connectivity, which in turn affects socialization and communication skills and causes the characteristic behaviors in people with autism. A significant amount of research time and funding is ongoing to better understand the biology of autism. We have additional details on the biology of autism and links to research in our new parent kit.

  • What are the main signs of autism?

    It’s important to note that the initial signs of autism in children can vary significantly for each child. Different children will often show different signs — some children may show many signs and other children may show few signs. The time course can also vary by child, with some children showing signs at a very young age (first few months of life), others showing signs after 1-2 years of life, and still other children appearing to have a normal development for their first couple of years and then appearing to regress and lose abilities they used to have (such as losing communication skills). And it is also possible to have some of the symptoms of autism but not have autism spectrum disorder. Because of this complexity, a specialized health care provider is needed to establish a diagnosis of autism.

  • What are the different severity levels of autism?

    The severity level is intended to capture the level of support and services required by a person with autism. The severity level can also change over time. The three levels are:

    • Level 1: Requiring support
    • Level 2: Requiring substantial support
    • Level 3: Requiring very substantial support
  • At what age does autism typically show up?

    The time course varies by child. Some children show signs at a very young age (first few months of life), others show signs after 1-2 years of life, and still other children appearing to have a normal development for their first couple of years and then appearing to regress and lose abilities they used to have (such as losing communication skills).

  • Does autism ever go away?

    For the majority of people, autism is a lifelong condition. Said otherwise, children with autism become adults with autism. There are some reports of children who have received early intensive services and later no longer meet the diagnostic criteria of autism spectrum disorder. Such children may still need additional support (e.g., educational supports) relative to their neurotypical peers.

  • Is autism more common in boys or girls?

    Autism is more common in boys. For instance, in Colorado, boys were 4.5 times as likely to be identified with autism than girls based on data from the CDC.

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