Finding autism early: 6 important questions about your toddler

In the practice where I work, as in many other practices, we ask parents to fill out questionnaires about the behavior and development of their children. At the 18 month and 24 month visits, we ask parents to fill out one called the MCHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers)--that's the tool we've chosen to help us look for autism. It's a list of questions that parents answer yes or no to, questions about how their child acts, plays and interacts with other people.

While all the questions on the MCHAT are important, there are six that are most important:
  • Does your child take an interest in other children?
  • Does your child ever use his finger to point at or ask for something?
  • Does your child ever bring objects over to you to show you something?
  • Does your child imitate you?
  • Does your child respond to his name when you call?
  • If you point at a toy across the room, does your child look at it?
If parents answer no to these questions, that's when we get most worried that the child might have autism.