New online screening tool to identify autism in toddlers

Autism can be identified and diagnosed very early in a child’s life, claims the new charity The Transforming Autism Project.

The charity, in partnership with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen’s team at Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre and the charity The Autism Research Trust, has developed a free app based on the Q-CHAT (or Quick-Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) available via their website to help parents and carers spot the early signs of autism in toddlers aged between 18 – 30 months.

It comprises a series of 25 questions, each focusing on a behavioural trait that can be related to autism and can be used to help decide whether a child may benefit from being referred for an autism assessment.

The first few years of a child’s life are critical for development and early intervention can make a fundamental difference to any child’s future. Yet autism diagnosis in the UK rarely happens before the age of four by which time an optimal window to make a permanent difference is missed.

Guy Shahar, CEO of The Transforming Autism Project, said:

“Through my own experiences with an autistic son, I discovered the life-changing effect early intervention can have. The new app is a fantastic tool to help parents and carers identify behaviours that might indicate autism in their child, and hopefully transform lives through getting help sooner.”

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, said:

“I’m pleased to work with The Transforming Autism Project to bring this tool to the families who need it the most. Currently there are often long delays between first concerns and eventual diagnosis of autism, so this app will give parents confidence in asking their doctors for an assessment for their child.”

The Transforming Autism Project aims to give hope, support and direction to parents and carers who would like to intervene early in the life of their autistic child. It plans to open a cutting edge early intervention clinic for babies and young toddlers, based on the pioneering and successful Mifne Method developed and practiced in Israel over the past 30 years.

The Q-Chat assessment tool is available here.

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