What is the M-CHAT-R?


Early screening for autism is crucial in identifying children at risk and ensuring early intervention. One commonly used screening tool is the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised (M-CHAT-R). In this article, we will explore the M-CHAT-R and its significance in early autism detection.

What is the M-CHAT-R?

The M-CHAT-R is a screening questionnaire designed to assess autism risk in toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age. It consists of 20 items that evaluate various behaviors and communication skills associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The primary purpose of the M-CHAT-R is to identify children who may require further evaluation for autism.

Administering the M-CHAT-R

The M-CHAT-R is typically administered by healthcare professionals, including pediatricians and developmental specialists. It involves a brief questionnaire completed by the child’s parent or caregiver. The questions cover a range of behaviors and skills, such as pointing, eye contact, and social interactions. The structured format of the questionnaire allows for consistent assessment across different individuals.

Interpreting the Results

Scoring of the M-CHAT-R is based on the number and nature of specific responses. Certain items are designated as critical, indicating higher relevance to autism risk. A total score is calculated, and a predetermined cutoff is used to determine if further evaluation is needed. Positive results on the M-CHAT-R often lead to follow-up assessments and more comprehensive evaluations by specialists.

Benefits and Limitations of the M-CHAT-R

The M-CHAT-R offers several benefits, including its ability to identify children at risk for autism at an early age. Early detection allows for timely intervention and support, leading to improved outcomes. However, it is important to note that the M-CHAT-R may result in false positives and false negatives. False positives may occur when a child scores high on the questionnaire but does not have autism, while false negatives may occur when a child with autism scores low on the questionnaire.


The M-CHAT-R serves as a valuable screening tool for early autism detection. By identifying children at risk, it facilitates prompt intervention and access to appropriate resources. While it has its limitations, the M-CHAT-R plays a significant role in the early identification of autism and supports the well-being of children and their families.