Parent's Corner > Diagnosis > Infant Screening

Screening Tools for Infants

A recent study compared the ability of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) to a broader screen for developmental disorders. Explore this section to learn more about the screening tools health professionals use to detect autism spectrum disorder in early childhood.

In this section, we discuss the developmental screening tools that can be used to assess whether an infant needs to be referred to an expert for an autism diagnosis. Some of the screening instruments rely solely on parents’ responses to a questionnaire, whereas others require a physician’s observations alongside a parental questionnaire. To date, only Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) screening tools, not diagnostic instruments, are available for infants.

Key Points
  • CHAT is an autism screening tool, composed of 5 yes-or-no items, used by the pediatrician or family doctor at the 18-month developmental checkup
  • M-CHAT is a list of 23 yes-or-no questions about a child’s usual behavior for parents of 16- to 30-month-old children to answer.
  • STAT is a 20-minute interactive screening measure that consists of 12 items and is designed to assess children of 24 to 36 months old.

Doctors can not screen children for autism until later in childhood.


Researchers have developed parental questionnaires and observation guidelines that can help doctors screen for children that should be referred for additional diagnostic testing.

Read about other misconceptions.