Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

Font Size

5-Minute Screen for Signs of Autism Works in 1-Year-Olds

In Study, Screen Detected Signs of Autism, Other Developmental Problems 75% of the Time
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 28, 2011 -- A simple checklist completed by parents can help doctors screen for signs of autism as early as the child’s first birthday, according to new research.

''I am hoping it will become the standard of care," researcher Karen Pierce, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the University of San Diego School of Medicine, tells WebMD.

She recently tested the screen, asking 137 pediatricians throughout San Diego County to take part. At the 12-month well baby visit, the doctors asked the parents to answer the 24-item checklist. The questions ask about their child's emotions, eye gaze, communication, gestures, and other behaviors.

The screen found suspected autism, autism spectrum disorder, language delays, or other developmental problems about 75% of the time, Pierce says.

"One of every four times, it will be wrong," she says. "The price to pay for that is actually very tiny" compared to the benefit of early intervention.

Currently, 5.7 years is the median age (half older, half younger) at which children receive an autism diagnosis, according to a 2009 study.

About one in 110 children in the U.S. has autism or autism spectrum disorder, a group of developmental disabilities that cause social, behavioral, and communication challenges.

The new study is published online in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Screen for Autism: A Closer Look

The screen used is already published and is available online for free download. It is called the CSBS DP IT checklist (Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler).

The questionnaire takes about five minutes to complete, Pierce says.

Among the questions:

  • Do you know when your child is happy and when your child is upset?
  • Does your child do things just to get you to laugh?
  • Does your child string sounds together, such as uh oh, mamma, gaga, bye-bye?
  • When you call your child's name, does he/she respond by looking or turning toward you?
  • Does your child wave to greet people?
  • Does your child smile or laugh while looking at you?

"This is not an autism-specific screen," Pierce tells WebMD. "It's a screen to catch autism and other developmental delays."

Today on WebMD

girl at window
Symptoms within the first 2 years of a child’s life.
boy playing a violin
How is this condition similar to autism?
Mother and daughter indoors playing
Play therapy may undo the disorder in at-risk babies.
preschool age girl sitting at desk
What causes this rare form of autism?
High Functioning Autism And Asperge Syndrome
Gluten Free Diet Slideshow
Mother and daughter indoors playing
man on bicycle
girl at window
Mother hugging teenage son
Understanding Rett Syndrome
Home Care Tips

WebMD Special Sections