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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001 Dec;40(12):1457-63.

Can the checklist for autism in toddlers differentiate young children with autism from those with developmental delays?

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JFK Partners, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262, USA.



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.


The CHAT was applied to a group of 44 children aged 2 and 3 years, rigorously diagnosed with autism or with other developmental problems.


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%.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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