Objectives: The current study aimed to develop and evaluate a parent rating scale capable of assessing individual differences in social competence (i.e., social strengths and weaknesses) among adolescents with high functioning ASD.
Methods: The newly developed Multidimensional Social Competence Scale (MSCS) was administered via an online survey to the primary caregivers of 183 adolescents (135 ASD, 48 TD). The ADI-R was used to confirm ASD diagnoses. The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) was also administered to caregivers in order to evaluate convergent validity of the MSCS.
Results: Results from confirmatory factor analyses supported the hypothesized multidimensional factor structure of the scale. Seven relatively distinct domains of social competence were identified including Social Motivation, Social Inferencing, Demonstrating Empathic Concern, Social Knowledge, Verbal Conversation Skills, Nonverbal Sending Skills, and Emotion Regulation. Psychometric evidence provided preliminary support for the reliability and validity of the scale and included indices of internal consistency, convergent validity, discriminant validity, criterion-related validity, and known groups validity.
Conclusions: The development of the MSCS was informed by a combination of theory-driven and empirical (i.e., data-driven) approaches to test construction. Preliminary evidence suggests that the MSCS is a psychometrically sound parent rating scale that is capable of providing a differentiated assessment of social competence in adolescents with high functioning ASD. Although additional studies are warranted to replicate the results and further document psychometric properties, the MSCS holds promise as a tool that will find many uses in both research and clinical settings. In particular, it is hoped that the scale may offer a means of parsing heterogeneity in ASD by identifying meaningful profiles or patterns of social competence.
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