International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Utility of the Child Behavior Checklist in Screening for Psychopathology in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Utility of the Child Behavior Checklist in Screening for Psychopathology in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
C. I. Magyar , Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, Pediatrics, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
V. Pandolfi , School Psychology, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Background: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) exhibit a wide range of co-morbid psychiatric disorders.  Clinicians are challenged to distinguish co-morbid psychiatric disorders from core and associated ASD features.  The Child Behavior Checklist-6 to 18 (CBCL), a norm-referenced caregiver report measure of emotional/behavior problems has not been investigated in ASD samples.
Objectives: To evaluate the utility of the CBCL-6 to 18 in screening psychopathology in youth with ASD.
Methods: The Schedule of Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children- Present and Lifetime Version (K-SADS) and clinical judgment were used to diagnose psychopathology in 76 youth with confirmed ASD. Caregivers completed the CBCL and participants received comprehensive psychological assessment. Significance tests, sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value data were obtained for 6-11 (n=42) and 12-18 (n=34) year olds corresponding to CBCL normative age groups.
Results: There was a high rate of psychiatric disorders the most frequent being mood and anxiety disorders, and ADHD. In the 6-11 age group, 61.9% were positive (K-SADS+) for at least one psychiatric disorder.  No significant differences in mean raw scores were obtained between K-SADS+ or K-SADS negative (-) groups across CBCL scales.  In the 12-18 age group, 64.7% were K-SADS + and scored significantly higher than K-SADS- group on most CBCL scales.  Within each age group no significant differences between K-SADS +/- were observed in age, FSIQ, adaptive behavior, and ASD symptoms.  Across age groups acceptable sensitivity but low specificity for mood disorders was obtained, and findings were mixed for anxiety disorders and ADHD.
Conclusions: The CBCL may help identify ASD youth at risk for mood disorders. Significant elevations could reflect broad functional impairment.  Further research with larger samples and multivariate analyses are needed to identify the relative contribution of CBCL data, autism symptomatology, and developmental level to the prediction of psychopathology in ASD.
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