Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children (STAT)

Video Transcript

Hi my name is Sarah Hoffmeier with Kansas Instructional Support Network. I am the Family Service and Training Coordinator for our state-wide project which provides technical assistance to school districts in the area of autism spectrum disorders. My primary role on the project is to train teams throughout the state on screening and diagnostic assessment tools used for autism. My background as a LEND trainee during my master's social work field practicum allowed me to take part in the diagnostic evaluations at KU Medical Center's Center for Child Health and Development. Our partnership with CCHD continues to grow as we help students and families across the state receive medical diagnostic services in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Today I am going to talk to you a little bit about the STAT.  The STAT is an empirically based, interactive screening instrument for autism that was originally designed for use with children between the ages of 24 months and 36 months. It consists of 12 items tapping the dimensions of play, motor imitation, and communication. These items are organized into four sections: Play, Requesting, Direct Attention, and Imitation. The items selected for inclusion are those that have been found to discriminate between children with autism and matched comparison samples. The STAT takes about 20 minutes to administer.
The STAT was designed to indicate a child's risk for an autism diagnosis, not to provide the diagnosis. A child who scores At Risk on the STAT should be referred for further diagnostic evaluation. However, it should be noted that children who do not score in the At Risk category may have other developmental disorders and should be referred for additional evaluation if deemed appropriate by an experienced clinician.

The STAT was developed for use by a broad range of service providers working with young children, such as early intervention providers, birth-to-three personnel, preschool teachers, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and healthcare professionals. It was designed for use in a variety of locations, including clinic and home settings. Service providers administering the STAT are expected to have experience working professionally with young children as well as specialized training and experience in autism. In addition, the STAT is authorized for use only by individuals who have received specific training on administration, scoring, and interpretation. Training can be completed at either Vanderbilt University, on-line, or from someone in your work setting who has received STAT workshop certification.

Components of the STAT include a manual, test protocol, scoring sheet, and test kit. The STAT test kit is comprised of play materials, such as a ball, truck, baby doll, bubbles, balloons, and more.

Scoring is completed after the administration of all trials. The examiner determines the Item Score which can be a Pass, Fail, or Refuse. The examiner indicates the Item Score by circling the appropriate descriptor on the STAT Test Protocol. Two critical STAT scoring concepts include: understanding the behaviors that may be scored as Refuse and using the child's best performance to derive the Item Score. A Refuse is an explicit communication from the child that he or she will not perform the desired activity. This is taken very conservatively in judging whether or not a child has refused an activity. For an item to be scored as a Refuse, the child must either say "no" or shake his/her head to indicate "no". Failure to perform an item is not considered to be a refusal unless one of these specific refusal behaviors is used. For example, pushing an object away or throwing it to the floor are not scored as Refuse, unless the child also says "no" or shakes his/her head. The child's best performance should be used in determining the Item Score. For example, if a child does not pass the first two trials for an item, but passes the third trial, then the Item Score is a Pass. If the child's behavior meets criteria for a passing score on the first trial of an item, additional trials are not necessary. If for some reason additional trials are given and failed, the child may still receive a Pass for the Item Score.

For more information on the STAT and training opportunities, please contact Amy Swanson, Coordinator of the STAT Development and Training, at Thank you.

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