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Early Screening of Autistic Traits (ESAT)

The Early Screening of Autistic Traits (ESAT; Swinkels et al., 2006) is a 14-item screening checklist for parents/caregivers.


The questionnaire is designed for 14-month-old infants. The tool is designed to be administered by health practitioners at well-baby visits. Failure on three or more items suggests the need for a diagnostic evaluation.


Author (yr) Age Range (yrs) Method of Administration/Format Approx. Time to Administer Subscales
Early Screening of Autistic Traits (ESAT) Swinkels, Dietz, van Daalen Kerkhof, van Engeland, & Buitelaar (2006) 1

14-item screening checklist for Parents/caregivers, administered by health practitioner

Yes/no responses

Yields cutoff score

10-15 min.

Pretend Play; Joint Attention; Interest in Others; Eye Contact; Verbal and Nonverbal Communication; Stereotypes; Preoccupations; Reaction to Sensory Stimuli; Emotional Reaction; Social Interaction

Note: If a parent answers more than three questions as “no,” then the child is eligible for continued screening. Availability: ESAT is not a commercial product and can be found in its entirety at


Author (yr) Sample Size Topic(s) Addressed Outcome
Beuker et. Al (2014) 12,948 - Age Range: 1:6 Positive predictive value

The aim of this study was to explore proportions of children that screened positive on the ESAT or the M-CHAT and to investigate if screening positive on the ESAT and M-CHAT is associated with clinical referral by 18 months and other aspects of children’s development, health, and behavior.

The M-CHAT identified more screen-positive children than the ESAT, but the ESAT was associated with more clinical referrals and tended to identify more children with medical, language, and behavioral problems.

Further analysis showed that combining the two instruments is more effective that the individual instruments alone in identifying children referred to clinical services at 18 months of age

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