2-minute questionnaire that may help detect autism

Scientists in the United States have developed a two-minute questionnaire for parents that could help doctors detect autism in toddlers. This is a stage when intervention is most crucial.

Called Psychological Development Questionnaire (PDQ-1), it has been developed by researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School to correctly identify youngsters who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with 88% accuracy.

Nearly 2,000 children in the 18- to 36-month-old age group took part in the study and were screened by experts. None of them had developmental problems.

Those who got low PDQ-1 scores were considered to be at risk of ASD and received comprehensive evaluations to determine whether they were on the spectrum.

The new screening test correctly identified autism in children from all socioeconomic communities. Some of the PDQ-1 questions posed to parents include whether the child points or gestures to show interest or get attention, responds to their name, speaks in phrases and relates to others.

Researchers believe the screening method is promising and deserves wider study.

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