Autism Screening Questionnaire

Ella Rain
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An autism screening questionnaire is a primary step in determining whether further evaluation for autism or related developmental disorders is necessary. The process typically involves input from parents and other caretakers. Later, evaluation with a developmental specialist is necessary to determine if a developmental delay is present.

The Autism Screening Questionnaire

The questionnaire requires input from the child's parents or primary caretakers. Different formats are used, each with a set of specific questions that explore different facets of the child's development.

A typical autism screening questionnaire includes parent-administered tests. The formal screening tools are designed to determine whether further evaluation is necessary or not. The test usually involves simple yes-or-no questions that, when looked at as a whole, offer a cutoff point where further assessment is necessary.

Ages and Stages Questionnaire

The pervasive developmental disorder screening test focuses on the following realms:

  • Communication
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Problem solving
  • Social interactions

The test is appropriate for young children aged 4 through 60 months of age.

Pervasive Developmental Disorders Screening Tests I and II

The PDD Screening Tests I allows parents to fill out questions independently. The test has 71 questions that involve specific symptoms that parents of children on the spectrum have reported in the past. The focus is on:

  • Stereotyped repetitive movements (stims)
  • Communication
  • Social skills

Test I is appropriate for children aged 18 months through 3 years.

PDD Screening Test II is similar to Test I in that parents complete the questionnaire independently, for their children aged 12 to 18 months. Test II differs in that it has sections for developmental clinicians to answer for babies from birth through 18 months. In addition, the test has a clinic screening section to measure the severity of autism in babies from newborns to 18 months of age.

Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status

The Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) is a test developed for parents to complete pertaining to their children less than eight years of age. This very basic screening tool contains 10 questions that are simple to answer. The test is typically followed by examinations that are more thorough.

Social Communication Questionnaire

The Social Communication Questionnaire consists of 40 questions that focus on communication, language development, and social skills. The screening test can be helpful in identifying the symptoms of pervasive developmental disorders and it is a reliable tool for determining whether further evaluation is necessary or not. It is important to note that this test is not effective in distinguishing a specific pervasive developmental disorder like Rett's syndrome or childhood disintegrative disorder.

The Child Development Inventories

The Child Development Inventories contain three tests that parents complete independently.

  1. General symptoms of pervasive developmental disorders, not considering age appropriate behaviors
  2. Infant Developmental Inventory is designed for children 18 months or younger, focusing on age-appropriate developmental milestones
  3. Child Development Inventory addresses issues for preschool-aged children and toddlers

Early Testing

Many pediatricians are adopting the practice of screening babies for possible developmental disorders as early as six months of age. Some questions parents can expect to answer in the earliest testing stage include:

  • Does the baby turn her head when her name is called?
  • Does the baby smile?
  • Make eye contact?
  • Imitate simple facial expressions?
  • Imitate gestures?
  • Becomes upset when you leave?
  • Notice when you enter the room?

Later, the questions begin to include interactions that are more complex.

  • Point to objects
  • Looks toward items that you point to
  • Shows objects of interest to you
  • Interact with other children
  • Engage in pretend play
  • Meet developmental milestones
  • After the initial autism-screening process is complete, evaluation continues. Parents can expect to have any of the following evaluations after it is deemed necessary after taking an autism screening questionnaire.
    • Crawling
    • Walking
    • Using words
    • Fine motor

Post Questionnaire Screening

  • Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS)
  • Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT)
  • Brigance Screens
  • Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI)
  • Bayley Scales

After further evaluation, an audiologist may examine the child for possible hearing problems. Once hearing problems are ruled out, an examination by a developmental specialist determines whether a diagnosis is appropriate or not.

Autism Screening Questionnaire