18 Months and the M-CHAT.

Mayita @ 18 months, October 2012.

On Friday, Mayita turned 18 months.

It’s an important milestone for so many reasons, like:

1. She is in the throes of toddlerhood – learning all these new concepts like running, climbing, tripping, etc. She is very curious about everything and loves exploring.

2. She also started the “Terrible Twos” a touch early. Her doctor confirmed it last month when I took her in for an ear check (as in, having an all-out wailing meltdown). She is a DIVA, for sure. 🙂

3. We are at the stage when we can evaluate her risk for autism.

At her well-child appointment we were given the M-CHAT to complete. M-CHAT stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT™; Robins, Fein, & Barton, 1999). The M-CHAT is a screening tool to identify children (usually 18-24 months) that may exhibit early signs of autism or developmental delay.

There are 23 questions that you answer ranging from social interaction, eye contact, listening skills and typical response for requests. The answers are simply Yes/No. There are 7 (“Best7”) questions that, based on the answer you give, will serve as a basis for a “positive” (risk for autism) result. It’s a very simple test, and scoring is quick.

Being that it is a such simple test, there is a higher probability for a false positive. A false positive in this case would mean that a child shows Risk for Autism but will not diagnosed with autism. There is a follow-up interview that would serve as the next step.

Mayita scored 100%. That means she is not at risk for autism, according to this particular screening tool.

Yes,  I am relieved. I would not be honest with you if I said I wasn’t worried. I have scrutinized B and Mayita’s developmental milestones to check for similarities or concerns. I realize that Mayita is pretty much a “typical” toddler – plays with other kids, responds to her name, imitates my movements, and points to anything. She has about 6-10 words like “ball” “dog” “up” “dadda” “mama” – but she also knows what they mean (like I say “apple” she points and gets all excited).

It was a completely different case for B. At 18 months, I was in the doctor’s office, crying about B’s lack of language. He babbled but it didn’t make sense. He was doing the handflapping, the hitting his head against the wall, and other telltale signs. We were also going through a difficult biting phase at B’s daycare. It seemed like every other day one of us would have to pick him up because he violated the “Three Bites And You’re Out” rule. We were only starting to test the waters of an Early Intervention screening.

Quite frankly, I don’t remember if I was given the M-CHAT for B. But when I looked at the scoring later – he would have easily showed the risk for autism at 18 months. Would it have a made a difference? It’s hard to say – he did qualify (on appeal) into Early Intervention before he turned 2. Early Intervention then got us the official diagnosis six months later.

I don’t know if I will say we are “out of the woods” regarding autism and Mayita. But this is a positive step.


About OneLoCoMommy

I live in Northern Virginia and and I look like the stereotypical suburban mom, for better or for worse. My son plays baseball and takes karate (albeit adaptive). My daughter is a gymnastics diva but rolls with the boys in T-ball. I've been a Room Mom and Playdate Coordinator. I work full-time, try to work out, and love my Book Club. However, I also blog on my experiences on our ASD, SPD and ADHD journey while trying to be a better parent advocate. All in a life's work.
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