Will A Questionnaire Confirm Or Deny Your Child Has Autism?

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A checklist (Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist ) created by Amy M. Wetherby & Barry M. Prizant in 2002 has got a lot of coverage and publicity lately. The questionnaire has been recommended for use at a child’s 12 month check-up in order to screen for autism and other developmental delays. The article, published in the American Journal of Pediatrics, states that the checklist should only take about five minutes and could easily be completed in the waiting area at the physician/pediatrician’s office.

As we have stated before, early diagnosis is vital. The earlier you can get your child the treatments and therapies that he/she needs, the better chance of improving their development. Too many times parents suspect something is wrong early on in the little one’s life, yet the child is in school before a test/screening/diagnosis is made. While knowing the child needs additional assistance at any age is a good thing, finding out earlier allows a better chance for therapies to take hold. A child’s mind is so fluid and sometimes neurological pathways can be “rewired” so that symptoms may be less severe or even completely dissipate.

Here is a sample of what you will find on the checklist:

Emotion and Eye Gaze

  • Do you know when your child is happy and when your child is upset?
  • When your child plays with toys, does he/she look at you to see if you are watching?
  • Does your child smile or laugh while looking at you?
  • When you look at and point to a toy across the room, does your child look at it?


  • Does your child let you know that he/she needs help or wants an object out of reach?
  • When you are not paying attention to your child, does he/she try to get your attention?
  • Does your child do things just to get you to laugh?
  • Does your child try to get you to notice interesting objects – just to get you to look at the objects, not to get you to do anything with them?


  • Does your child pick up objects and give them to you?
  • Does your child show objects to you without giving you the object?
  • Does your child wave to greet people?
  • Does your child point to objects?
  • Does your child nod his/her head to indicate yes?


  • Does your child use sounds or words to get attention or help?
  • Does your child string sounds together, such as uh, oh, mama, gaga, bye bye, bada?
  • About how many of the following consonant sounds does your child use: ma, na, ba, da, ga, wa, la, ya, sa, sha?


  • When you call your child’s name, does he/she respond by looking or turning toward you?
  • About how many different words or phrases does your child understand without gestures? E.g., if you say “where’s your tummy,” “where’s Daddy”, “give me the ball,” or “come here” without showing or pointing, your child will respond appropriately.

Object use

  • Does your child show interest in playing with a variety of objects?
  • About how many of the following objects does your child use appropriately: cup, bottle, bowl, spoon, comb or brush, toothbrush, washcloth, ball, toy vehicle, toy telephone?
  • About how many blocks or rings does your child stack?
  • Does your child pretend to play with toys (e.g. feed a stuffed animal, put a doll to sleep, put an animal figure in a vehicle)?

Do you have any concerns about your child’s development (If “yes”, describe on back).

In answer to our title, the answer is no. A checklist will not tell you if your bundle of joy has autism or not. It is a screening tool only. What is will tell you is if your child warrants further testing.

For a view of the official checklist, you may look here.

Have you or someone you know used the autism checklist at the physician/pediatrician’s office?  How did your experience go?  Thanks for reading!




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