What is the M-CHAT and How is it Used in Pediatric ABA Therapy?

The M-CHAT (or M-CHAT-RTM) is an important screening resource for parents who believe their child may be on the autism spectrum. M-CHAT-RTM stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised. This questionnaire, which can be found online, is used to assess risk for autism spectrum disorder in children who are between 16 and 30 months old.

Why screen so early?
As we’ve learned in recent years, the earlier the better is the best course of action when it comes to early intervention. Extensive research has shown that children who begin early intervention treatment prior to three years of age are likely to be more successful in building positive behaviors, than if they started treatment after three years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that all children between the ages of 18 and 24 months receive a screening for autism spectrum disorder.

Is there evidence that M-CHAT works?
Scientific studies show that M-CHAT is an accurate autism screening tool. This method was also developed by neuropsychologists and a clinical psychologist. As with any diagnostic tool, it may be helpful to seek an opinion from a professional or specialist in the field. The scientists who developed the M-CHAT also created the M-CHAT-R Follow-up Interview™ to gain additional insight.

Who uses M-CHAT?
M-CHAT is a free online tool for parents and caregivers. This questionnaire asks questions about the behaviors of the child, in order to assess whether they are on the autism spectrum. This is often a helpful first step in seeking ABA treatment, as the parents are able to determine the areas in which their child is not following typical development.

How can M-CHAT help ABA therapy?
M-CHAT provides additional insight on the areas that will be targeted in ABA therapy, as the questionnaire asks about specific skills. These questions ask about various skills that are acquired during development, including auditory abilities, play skills, and social skills. The M-CHAT scores will show whether a child has a low, medium, or high risk for autism, and this information will allow the parents and team of therapists to determine the best course of action in the ABA treatment plan.

As previously mentioned, any diagnostic measure is not 100% accurate, but M-CHAT has scientifically proven success for determining whether children are at risk for autism.


Want to learn more about the M-CHAT and ABA therapy?
Are you interested in ABA services for your child in the Chicago area? Contact us or call (773) 630-4400 to learn more about the range of services we provide for children who are on the autism spectrum at Chicago ABA Therapy, including applied behavior analysis therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.