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The Interactive Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (iM-CHAT) is a video-enhanced, automated version of the M-CHAT, the only clinically validated ASD-specific screener for toddlers (16-30 mos). The interactive M-CHAT (iM-CHAT) uses brief video illustrations, automation, and a web-based platform to improve the accessibility and accuracy of ASD screening. Video examples of key behaviors improve parent engagement with and comprehension of the M-CHAT-R/F items. The iM-CHAT automatically scores responses and incorporates Follow-Up questions into screening when needed, reducing the need for additional physician or staff time, and giving physicians the opportunity to see the complete results in real-time during the well visit. The system alerts doctors to any “red flag” results so that these can be discussed with parents during the visit and needed referrals made in a timely manner. The iM-CHAT’s flexible cloud-based platform enhances screening feasibility and efficiency by allowing parents to complete screening at home prior to the well child appointment.
By including 1-4 brief video examples and audio recording of each question, the iM-CHAT provides a more immersive, engaging, and easily comprehensible experience for parents than text alone. Examples are provided of toddlers from diverse backgrounds to help the tool feel pertinent for a wide variety of parents and communities – 41% of the iM-CHAT videos include minority children and families. These features of the iM-CHAT may be particularly beneficial for improving the accuracy of ASD screening in minority and low-socioeconomic status children (e.g., Roux et al., 2012).
To create the iM-CHAT, GL filmed hundreds of hours of documentary video of toddlers with ASD as well as children who are typically developing for comparison. Every video was vetted by ASD experts. The children were filmed as unobtrusively as possible in everyday situations in natural settings.
Since many of the early signs of ASD are negative symptoms or missing milestones, showing typically developing children naturally exhibiting these behaviors helps clarify what is not there, such as “answering to name.” Typically developing children, unless distracted, turn their heads to answer to someone calling out their name in a quick, reflexive way. Children with autism may appear to hear their name being called but may not look or respond.
This tool provides a time-saving way to assess critical developmental delays and meet The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines that mandate autism screening for all children at the 16, 18 and 24 month well visit. Video helps physicians and parents spot the subtle signs of ASD in toddlers, such as “unusual finger movements,” improving early detection.
Our customizable platform provides tracking of symptoms over time, so doctors can easily see if a patient scored better or worse on an exam based on a previous visit.
GeneticaLens developed the videos, content and tools for the interactive M-CHAT (iM-CHAT) in close collaboration with a team of experts including Deborah Fein, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Connecticut; Jeremy M. Silverman, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, the Seaver Autism Center, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; Diana L. Robins, Ph.D. associate professor at the AJ Drexel Autism Institute, where she also leads the Program Area in Early Detection and Intervention for ASD; Alexander Kolevzon, MD., a Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, and Clinical Director of the Seaver Autism Center; and Connor Kerns, Ph.D., assistant research professor at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.
GeneticaLens has an exclusive license with Dr. Robins, author of the M-CHAT, to video-enhance the M-CHAT-R/F screener questions.