Objectives: To develop a screening instrument that can be used by child care workers in day-care centres.
Methods: Child care workers in day-care centres across Flanders received a 3-hour training. They filled out the 29-item CESDD for all children in their centre (N = 5411; mean age 17.41 months, range 3 to 36 months; M:F 1:1). Children who showed some signs of ASD or language delay were invited for a second-stage screening.
Results: Based on a preliminary cut-off score of at least 2 signs of ASD ticked on the questionnaire, the CESDD has a sensitivity of .83 and a specificity of .93. The CESDD has a good internal consistency: Cronbach’s alpha is 0.70 for children younger than 12 months, 0.86 for children between 12 and 24 months and 0.89 for children older than 24 months.
Conclusions: Screening for ASD in day-care centres with the CESDD seems very promising to promote early detection of ASD in a general population sample, which is important for clinical and scientific reasons.