Differentiating between autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities in children who failed a screening instrument for ASD

Date of Completion

January 2007


Psychology, Clinical




Toddlers with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and toddlers with global developmental delay (DD) or developmental language disorder (DLD) share many features, which can create challenges for differential diagnosis. Few studies have compared the behavioral presentation of these groups of children. The purpose of the current study was to compare the behavioral presentation of children with ASD and children with DD/DLD, who display some characteristics of ASD, using the diagnostic algorithm items from the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Generic (ADOS), the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). To date, 195 children have failed the M-CHAT and have been diagnosed with either ASD, DD or DLD. When compared to the children with DD/DLD, the children with ASD had prominent and consistent impairments in socialization skills, especially joint attention skills. The children with ASD were also more impaired in some aspects of communication, play, and sensory processing. Results indicate that children with ASD and children with DD/DLD share common features but certain behavioral markers can be used to differentiate the two groups. ^