A parent questionnaire is proving beneficial for flagging children at risk for autism and other developmental disabilities at age 1, paving the way for earlier intervention.

The 63-question assessment asks parents of 1-year-old children about a broad range of behavioral factors in order to spot children who may have autism.

Now a long-term study is finding that the questionnaire known as the First Year Inventory or FYI is identifying the right kids.

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Researchers followed 699 children whose parents completed the assessment when their kids were 12-months-old. Of those who were flagged for autism by the FYI, 31 percent were diagnosed with the disorder by age 3.

At the same time, 85 percent of children who were found to be at risk were ultimately diagnosed with some type of developmental disability or concern, researchers report this month in the journal Autism.

“These results indicate that an overwhelming majority of children who screen positive on the FYI indeed experience some delay in development by age three that may warrant early intervention,” said Grace Baranek of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine who was a senior author on the study.

The implications could be significant, researchers said, offering kids the opportunity for intervention months or years before a formal diagnosis is made.

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