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Dr. Limbos is presenting the findings of her new research on screening for autism spectrum disorders at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in San Francisco, California this week. The research, which studied over 300 preschool children presenting to their primary care provider, examined the accuracy of a number of commonly used general developmental screening tests in detecting children with autism spectrum disorders. The general screening measures included the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS), Rourke Baby Record, and Nipissing District Developmental Screen (NDDS). These general developmental screening measures were compared to an autism-specific screening tool, the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT). The results found that the MCHAT had excellent sensitivity and specificity for classifying children with autism. Specificity improved even further when the follow up interview was used with the MCHAT. Furthermore, while all of the general developmental screening tools had 100% sensitivity (i.e., if the tests screen negative, no children with autism are missed), they lacked specificity in screening for autism. The findings support the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics to routinely use broad-band developmental screening tests in all preschool children. When these tests detect concerns (i.e., screen positive) follow up screening with the MCHAT is warranted to improve the specificity of the screening. To view the poster presentation click here.