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Autism screen related to diagnostic criteria

The 2 Minute Autism Diagnosis Screen (2MADS) is designed to inform you about the diagnostic criteria for autism.
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© University of Bath

The 2 Minute Autism Diagnosis Screen (2MADS) is designed to inform you about the diagnostic criteria for autism. Importantly, the 2MADS is NOT diagnostic (ie you cannot diagnose autism with a few quick questions) but will help you think about the characteristics that are core to a diagnosis of autism. This can inform the decision about whether to seek formal diagnostic procedures or not. There are 2 questions, responded to on a 5-point scale, for 0 to 4:

Please answer the following two questions as honestly and accurately as you can. For each question, please choose the one option that is closest to being true for you [your child] in everyday life.

  1. How often do you [does your child] have difficulties with social communication and social interaction with other people? (For example, difficulties with normal back-and-forth social conversation, or making normal eye contact or making friends).
  2. How often do you [does your child] have difficulties with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests? (For example, difficulties with repetitive movements, or insisting on sameness (or routines), or fixated and intense interests, or very high (or very low) sensitivity to the environment – such as light, sound or texture).
  • 0: Almost never/in almost no situations;
  • 1: Rarely/in rare situations;
  • 2: Sometimes/in some situations;
  • 3: Mostly/in most situations;
  • 4: Almost always/in almost all situations.

The first item is referred to as the ‘social’ item and the second item is referred to as the ‘RRB item’. Scores can range from 0-4 for each item.

Here is some guidance on interpretation:

Scores: Both items = 0 or 1; One item = 2, one item < 2; (combined score < 4) Meaning: Both scores in the range typical of those without autism. Decision: Autism diagnostic procedures not needed, neither diagnostic element if evident.

Scores: Both items = 2; (combined score = 4) Meaning: Both scores in the range typical of those with autism and without autism. Decision: Borderline, seek additional autism indications before formal diagnostic procedures.

Scores: One item = 2, one item > 2; Both items > 2; (Combined score > 4) Meaning: Both scores in the range typical of those with autism. Decision: Both diagnostic elements are evidenced, seek diagnostic procedures.

Scores: One item 0 or 1, one item 3 or 4. Meaning: One score in the range typical of those with autism, one score in the range typical of those without autism. Decision: Both diagnostic elements are not evidenced, seek additional autism indications and explore alternative diagnoses.

This is based on early research, which needs to be developed further and there are other screens that can also be used, such as the AQ mention in the previous screening section. If you find the 2MADS useful, a copy is available in the downloads below.

You can read a recent article on the 2MADS in the downloads below.

© University of Bath
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Good Practice in Autism Education

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