International Meeting for Autism Research: The Validity of the Social Communication Questionnaire in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disability

The Validity of the Social Communication Questionnaire in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disability

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Franklin Hall B Level 4 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)
2:00 PM
W. T. Brooks , I/DD-Clinical Psychology, Ohio State University Nisonger Center, Columbus, OH
B. A. Benson , Psychology, Ohio State University Nisonger Center, Columbus, OH

This project expands on current research of the validity of a promising ASD screening measure, the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ), which has primarily focused on the psychometric properties of this measure in children.  Identifying autism spectrum disorders in both children and adults who present with diverse symptoms, including challenging behavior, is a crucial step in understanding the nature of these disorders and allocating resources to individuals who may need specific treatment and support for the associated challenges. Individuals with ASDs often require extensive life-long support, and researchers argue that continued assessment throughout the lifespan is essential for maintaining appropriate support and treatment.

Continued research on the validity of ASD screening measures is extremely important in identifying individuals who may need further assessment for autism, especially in adults who may not have been previously diagnosed before increased awareness of ASDs and introduction of sophisticated diagnostic tools.  While the psychometric studies of the SCQ in children provide strong evidence that the SCQ is useful and valid, no independent studies on the validity of the SCQ among adults with ASDs were found. 


This project examines the psychometric properties (including sensitivity and specificity) of the SCQ in a sample of 90 adults with a prior diagnosis of either 1) intellectual disability (ID) and an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 2) ID presenting with moderate-severe challenging behavior, or 3) ID presenting with mild-no challenging behavior.  This project also examines adaptive behavior profiles of individuals with autism spectrum disorders with ID. 


Adults with intellectual disability (ID) and their guardians were recruited from agencies in Central Ohio and provided consent to allow researchers to review agency records.  Participants with ID nominated potential raters (caregivers or support professionals) to complete several measures to assess ASD symptoms (the SCQ and a DSM-IV Symptom Checklist), behavior problems (the Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Community), and adaptive functioning (Adaptive Behavior Assessment System – Second Edition) of participants with ID. 


Recruitment is complete for the required sample at this time.  Currently there is not enough data to present results, but it is anticipated that data collection and analysis will be completed in the next two months. 

Based on previous research showing a decrease in the specificity of the SCQ in children who presented with challenging behavior, it is hypothesized that the specificity of the SCQ will also decrease when used to screen adults with ID and no diagnosis of an ASD, who present with moderate-severe challenging behavior.  The decrease in specificity is expected to be significantly more pronounced in participants with moderate-severe challenging behavior than participants with mild-no challenging behavior.  Based on previous research of adaptive skills in autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability, it is also hypothesized that individuals with autism spectrum disorders will score lower than the comparison group on the adaptive behavior subscales of Leisure, Social, and Communication skills of the ABAS-II. 


Study findings will result in recommendations concerning the use of the SCQ to screen adults for autism spectrum disorders and to assess autism symptoms throughout the lifespan.

See more of: Social Function
See more of: Autism Symptoms