Comparison of Autism Screening in Younger and Older Toddlers

Abstract

This study examined the effect of age at completion of an autism screening test on item failure rates contrasting older (>20 months) with younger (<20 months) toddlers in a community primary care sample of 73,564 children. Items related to social development were categorized into one of three age sets per criteria from Inada et al. (Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 4(4):605–611, 2010). Younger toddlers produced higher rates of item failure than older toddlers and items in both of the later acquired item sets had higher probability rates for failure than the earliest acquired item set (prior to 8 months). Use of the same items and the same scoring throughout the target age range for autism screening may not be the best strategy for identifying the youngest toddlers at risk for autism.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to all of the participating practices using CHADIS for clinical care. This project was funded in part by a grant from the NIMH Grant No. R44MH085399.

Author Contributions

RS and BH conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; LS and TEA participated in the design and interpretation of the data; PB participated in the design of the study and performed the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Raymond Sturner.

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Conflict of interest

This study was conducted by the Center for Promotion of Child Development through Primary Care and its for-profit subsidiary, Total Child Health (TCH), Inc. CHADIS, the web-tool used in the study, was developed by Dr. Sturner and his spouse, Dr. Howard. Dr Sturner is Director of the Center and Dr. Howard is President of TCH. Both are members of the Board of Directors of both entities and are paid consultants to both entities.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Sturner, R., Howard, B., Bergmann, P. et al. Comparison of Autism Screening in Younger and Older Toddlers. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 3180–3188 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3230-1

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Keywords

  • Autism screening
  • M-CHAT
  • Developmental screening
  • Test development