This simple five-minute quiz could detect if your child has autism

KIDS as young as 18 months could get an autism diagnosis with this new quiz, scientists have claimed.

Experts at the University of Cambridge said the new screening method could help kids be "fast tracked" into intervention.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an incurable, lifelong developmental condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

There are many signs of autism but the main ones are split into categories such as spoken language, responding to others, interacting with others and behaviour.

Looking at data from thousands of children, experts at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge used a revised version of the original CHAT questionnaire which was first published in the 1990s.

The new Q-CHAT test (Quantitative Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) looked at a point scale of frequency for each child.

Questions ranked include how children communicate in social environments, repetitive and sensory behaviours and language development.

The key factors include ranking statements such as "my child does not speak", and questions around repetitive movements and unusual sensory interests.

Writing in the BMJ Paediatrics Open, the experts explained: "For each item, the response representing the most ‘autistic’ symptomatology scores 4 points and the least ‘autistic’ response scores 0.

The 25 questions which can detect if your child has autism

Each question is ranked on a scale of one to four

  1. Does your child look at you when you call his/her name?
  2. How easy is it for you to get eye contact with your child?
  3. When your child is playing alone, does s/he line objects up?
  4. Can other people easily understand your child?
  5. Does your child point to indicate that s/he wants something (e.g a toy that is out of reach)?
  6. Does your child point to share interest with you (e.g pointing at an interesting sight)?
  7. How long can your child’s interest be maintained by a spinning object (e.g washing machine, electric fan, toy car wheels)?
  8. How many words can your child say?
  9. Does your child pretend (eg care for dolls, talk on a toy phone?)
  10. Does your child follow where you are looking?
  11. How often does your child sniff or lick unusual objects?
  12. Does your child place your hand on an object when s/he wants you to use it (e.g on a door handle when s/he wants you to open the door, or a toy when s/he wants you to activate it)?
  13. Does your child walk on tiptoes?
  14. How easy is it for your child to adapt when his/her routine changes or when things are out of their usual place?
  15. If you or someone else in the family is visibly upset, does your child show signs of wanting to comfort them (e.g stroking their hair, hugging them)?
  16. Does your child do the same thing over and over again (e.g running the tap, turning the light switch on and off, opening and closing doors)?
  17. How typical would you describe you child's first word?
  18. Does your child echo things s/he hears (e.g things that you say, lines from songs or movies, sounds)?
  19. Does your child use simple gestures?
  20. Does your child make unusual finger movements near his/her eyes?
  21. Does your child spontaneously look at your face to check your reaction when faced with something unfamiliar?
  22. How long can your child’s interest be maintained by just one or two objects?
  23. Does your child twiddle objects repetitively (e.g pieces of string)?
  24. Does your child seem over sensitive to noise?
  25. Does your child stare at nothing with no apparent purpose?

Click here for the full quiz and answer options

"On approximately half the items the ‘autistic’ response is the positive one. On the other half the ‘autistic’ response is the negative one."

In phase one of the study, caregivers and parents of 13,070 children were asked to complete the Q-CHAT, the children were aged between 18-30 months.

The researchers then narrowed this down to a pool of 121 children who were invited for an autism diagnostic assessment.

They then followed up when the children were four-years-old and found that this combination came back with 98 per cent accuracy.

Director of Research Strategy at the Autism Research Centre, Dr Carrie Allison said this split approach to testing for autism could be "a better approach than relying on a single time point".

Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, said: "25 years ago our team was the first to show autism could be screened and diagnosed as young as 18 months of age.

"This new study shows how our original screening instrument—the CHAT—has been revised into a better instrument—the Q-CHAT, which can pick up children who need an autism diagnosis.

"Early detection means happier, healthier, children and families because they can be targeted with support."

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