Saturday, May 17, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
Background: Communication deficits and language delays are a core feature of autism. As such, a variety of measures have been developed and are regularly used in clinical and research settings to assess children’s level of competence in these areas. Given that characteristics of autism make the job of language evaluation a challenging one, a number of different assessment approaches have been derived, including direct child assessment, and indirect methods (i.e., parent or teacher questionnaires and interviews).
Objectives: This study explores the extent of consistency/disagreement amongst scores obtained using various types of communication measure in a large sample of preschoolers with autism.
Methods: Participants were 144 children with core autism aged 2 – 5 years referred across three regions of the United Kingdom to the Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT; www.medicine.manchester.ac.uk/pact/). Diagnoses were confirmed through ADI-R and ADOS assessment and children were assessed with a battery of communication measures. This included receptive and expressive subscales of the Preschool Language Scales, the communication domain of the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales (parent survey and teacher rating forms), and receptive and expressive vocabulary counts from the MacArthur-Bates Communication Development Inventory; Words and Gestures.
Results: Appropriate scores were derived so as to permit comparison of scores across the various measures. Preliminary exploration on a subset of cases indicated high variability of scores for individual children with broad agreement across the various measures. Effects of type of measure (i.e., direct vs. indirect assessment) and domain of communication (i.e., receptive vs. expressive) will be evaluated for the whole sample.
Conclusions: These results will describe a profile of language abilities in a relatively homogeneous group of preschoolers with core autism. It will also speak to the relative contribution of different informants and types of instruments in the assessment of communication in this group.