Screening Recommendations
Research has found that ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable.[1] However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are much older. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need. The earlier an ASD is diagnosed, the sooner treatment services can begin.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child doctor visits at:
9 months
18 months
24 or 30 months
Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for developmental problems because of preterm birth or low birth weight.

In addition, all children should be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-child doctor visits at:
18 months
24 months
Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for ASD (e.g., having a sibling with an ASD) or if symptoms are present.

It is important for doctors to screen all children for developmental delays, but especially to monitor those who are at a higher risk for developmental problems due to preterm birth, low birth weight, or having a sibling or parent with an ASD.

In February 2016, the United States Preventive Services Task Force released a recommendation regarding universal screening for ASD among young children. This final recommendation statement applies to children ages 3 and younger who have no obvious signs or symptoms of ASD or developmental delay and whose parents, caregivers, or doctors have no concerns about the child’s development. The Task Force reviewed research studies on the potential benefits and harms of ASD screening in young children who do not have obvious signs or symptoms of ASD. They looked at whether screening all children for ASD helps with their development or quality of life. The final recommendation statement summarizes what the Task Force learned: There is not enough evidence available on the potential benefits and harms of ASD screening in all young children to recommend for or against this screening. This recommendation statement is not a recommendation against screening; it is a call for more research. For more information, please visit 

Types of Screening Tools
There are many different developmental screening tools. CDC does not approve or endorse any specific tools for screening purposes. This list is not exhaustive, and other tests may be available.

Selected examples of screening tools for general development and ASD:

Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ)
This is a general developmental screening tool. Parent-completed questionnaire; series of 19 age-specific questionnaires screening communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem-solving, and personal adaptive skills; results in a pass/fail score for domains.

Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS)
Standardized tool for screening of communication and symbolic abilities up to the 24-month level; the Infant Toddler Checklist is a 1-page, parent-completed screening tool.

Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS)
This is a general developmental screening tool. Parent-interview form; screens for developmental and behavioral problems needing further evaluation; single response form used for all ages; may be useful as a surveillance tool.

Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT)
Parent-completed questionnaire designed to identify children at risk for autism in the general population.

Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children (STAT)
This is an interactive screening tool designed for children when developmental concerns are suspected. It consists of 12 activities assessing play, communication, and imitation skills and takes 20 minutes to administer.