Clinician and Researcher Feedback | Overview
I have been using the RITA-T within my Early Intervention post as Autism Specialist for over 2 years. This tool has given me tangible information to provide to families and pediatricians to discuss Autism. Once a child screens for further investigation for Autism the scores open up a pathway to families here in the Berkshires that we haven't had. Our families wait times have dropped from 1yr to 2 - 4 mnths by being able to refer our families to Dr. Choueiri using RITA-T results. It is very easy to use and takes some guess work out of screening in my opinion. Prior to using the RITA-T I was using CARS and I am finding the RITA-T gives me a clearer picture of being at risk for Autism or not.
As a user of many autism screeners and full assessments, I must say I do really love this test. It is perfect for research because it is so quick and easy to administer.
This is the second time I took this workshop. My first one was in person, and I took this as an update - It was excellent, just like the in-person one. Easy to follow and very informative. I have been using RITA-T for more than two years / slow down with the COVID-pandemic, hoping to use it more. The population I'm working with former preterm infants and kids with a genetic syndrome like Down syndrome. I find the RITA-T is very helpful as a level II screening before doing an ADOS.
We learned the STAT (Vanderbilt’s Screening Test for Autism in Toddlers & Young Children) during the training which I used initially in practice. The program has moved away from the STAT and is using the RITA-T in practice preferentially because is lower cost for training and kit, much faster to perform in busy clinic setting, has excellent psychometrics, and really is an excellent tool for a Level 2 discriminator. I use it to screen any appropriately aged child with ASD concerns based on developmental surveillance by myself or a practice colleague or anyone with a concerning MCHAT...I have been using it regularly now instead of the STAT and find it extremely valuable for observing and documenting behaviors that support DSM 5 criteria for ASD and merit the “at-risk” diagnosis.
As the Director of ABA Early Intervention Program for Behavioral Concepts, there has been a significant increase in not only referrals, but referrals at a younger age from the Thom Worcester Early Intervention Program for ABA Specialty Services. The referrals have nearly doubled in a one-year period. The average age the diagnosis/referral also decreased from age 30-months to 28-months, which is significant when it comes to treatment. This early detection and diagnosis program collaboration has been an incredible asset to families and enriching the lives of the many children diagnosed with autism, that now have access to earlier, specialized services.
Our agency is just starting to implement the RITA-T into our Early Integration Program. We feel that this will be a useful assessment in our program and will allow us to identify children at risk at an early age.
The RITA-T is a nice addition to our Universal Screening Program using the M-CHAT-R. It provides direct observation in addition to the questionnaire.
Using the RITA-T as a second level play-based screening fits very well into the home visit model of Early Intervention. It is very quick and easy to administer and score and provides supplemental information to the first level screen for ASD.
I have used this consistently over the last 1 year. We have a system in our practice that helps detect kids on the spectrum at a much younger age. In our practice, we have started handing out a short list of red flag signs to parents starting at their baby's 9 month well care so they can observe them at home. We discuss these at their 12 month visit and continue to give them these lists at every well care till they are 30 months old. Since we have started doing that, we have had more success with the MCHAT-R questionnaire. Perhaps, observing their children closely for these subtle signs at home has improved their observations on the MCHAT-R screen. I follow this with the RITA-T test at 18 months and if abnormal, refer them for EI/audiology etc. At 24 months and 30 months, I use the RITA-T test on all kids as it serves as an ice breaker and a good screening tool. Parents have been very grateful and pleasantly surprised that we are screening them for ASD rather than putting the burden on them. I feel when we wait for the parent to bring up concerns, the child is much older and we have missed precious time for EI.