Autism - Exams and Tests
All doctors who see infants and children for well-child visits should watch for early signs of developmental disorders. Developmental screening tools, such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire or the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), can help assess behavior.
If a doctor discovers the following obvious signs of developmental delays, the child should immediately be evaluated:5
- No babbling, pointing, or other gestures by 12 months
- No single words by 16 months
- No 2-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months, with the exception of repeated phrases (echolalia)
Any loss of any language or social skills at any age
If there are no obvious signs of developmental delays or any unusual indications from the screening tests, most infants and children do not need further evaluation until the next well-child visit.
But children who have a sibling with autism should continue to be closely monitored, because they are at increased risk for autism and other developmental problems.
When socialization, learning, or behavior problems develop in a person at any time or at any age, he or she should also be evaluated.