Can the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers differentiate young children with autism from those with developmental delays?

Douglas Scambler, Sally J Rogers, Elizabeth A. Wehner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Objective: The Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) has been demonstrated to be sensitive to the presence of autism in otherwise normally developing 18-month-old children. However, its ability to differentiate autism from other significant developmental delays is unknown. This study examined this question. Method: The CHAT was applied to a group of 44 children aged 2 and 3 years, rigorously diagnosed with autism or with other developmental problems. Results: By the original CHAT authors' criteria, the sensitivity and specificity of the CHAT were 65% and 100%, respectively. Slightly altering the criteria resulted in a sensitivity of 85% in the current group of children with developmental disabilities while maintaining specificity of 100%. Conclusions: The current study is the first to demonstrate that the CHAT successfully discriminates 2-year-old children with autism from those with other developmental disorders. In addition, the increased sensitivity of the Denver Criteria in children with developmental disabilities may improve its usefulness as a screening tool for community-based early-diagnostic teams and general practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1457-1463
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Autism
  • Other developmental delays
  • Preschool screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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