Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 713–722 | Cite as

Screening for Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Children Aged 14–15 Months. II: Population Screening with the Early Screening of Autistic Traits Questionnaire (ESAT). Design and General Findings

  • Claudine DietzEmail author
  • Sophie Swinkels
  • Emma van Daalen
  • Herman van Engeland
  • Jan K. Buitelaar
Original Paper


A two-stage protocol for screening for autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) was evaluated in a random population of 31,724 children aged 14–15 months. Children were first pre-screened by physicians at well-baby clinics using a 4-item screening instrument. Infants that screened positive were then evaluated during a 1.5-h home visit by a trained psychologist using a recently developed screening instrument, the 14-item Early Screening of Autistic Traits Questionnaire (ESAT). Children with 3 or more negative scores were considered to be at high-risk of developing ASD and were invited for further systematic psychiatric examination. Eighteen children with ASD were identified. The group of children with false positive results had related disorders, such as Language Disorder (N = 18) and Mental Retardation (N = 13).


Autistic spectrum disorder Screening Instrument Early identification 



This study was supported by grants 940-38-045 and 940-38-014 (Chronic Disease Program), by grant 28.3000-2 of the Praeventiefonds-ZONMW, by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), by a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Culture, and by grants from Cure Autism Now, and the Korczak Foundation. We are very grateful to the physicians of the well-baby clinics of Eemland, Thuiszorg Stad Utrecht, Weidesticht and Zorgservice Vitras, who were all willing to cooperate with our screening procedure. We also thank the parents and children for their trust in our expertise when the project was still in an experimental stage.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudine Dietz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sophie Swinkels
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emma van Daalen
    • 1
  • Herman van Engeland
    • 1
  • Jan K. Buitelaar
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, B01.201University Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity Medical Center Nijmegen NijmegenThe Netherlands

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