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The Social Responsiveness Scale: The Relation to Parent Rated Social Outcomes in Youth with ASD

Saturday, 4 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
K. Johnston1 and G. Iarocci2, (1)Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada, (2)Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
Background: The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS; Constantino, 2005) is a parent/teacher-report measure of social impairment associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and is widely used as a screening tool and as an aid in clinical diagnosis.  In contrast to tests such as the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R; Le Couteur et al., 1989), which is designed to classify an individual as either having ASD or not, the SRS is intended to assess the full spectrum of symptom severity in the general population.  Although empirical evidence has found that the SRS has demonstrated strong convergent validity (e.g., Constantino et al., 2003), it is also important to determine whether SRS scores (as an index of social impairment) also possess criterion-related validity; for example, relate to reports of actual social outcomes among youth with ASD. 

Objectives: This study examined the relationship between SRS scores and parent reports of real-world social outcomes such as peer relations in a sample of high functioning youth with ASD.  It was hypothesized that higher scores on the SRS (indicating higher social impairment) would be associated with poorer peer relations in this sample.  

Methods: Data from 51 youth with high functioning autism (i.e., IQ >85) between the ages of 7 and 18 was utilized.  All relevant data was collected between 2007 and 2012 from youth and parents participating in research in the Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.  SRS raw score data was correlated with data from a brief parent questionnaire inquiring about the quality of their child’s peer relationships.  Items on this questionnaire ask parents to rate how well certain statements, such as “gets along with his/her classmates” or “is ignored by peers at school”, describe their child on a 4 point scale (never, rarely, sometimes, often, or almost always).  

Results: Results showed that SRS raw scores were significantly negatively correlated with parent-reports of social outcomes (r=-526, p<.001) among high functioning children with ASD. Using Cohen’s (1992) criteria, this qualifies as a large effect size.

Conclusions:  Our prediction that higher scores on the SRS (indicating higher social impairment) would be related to poorer peer relations in a high functioning sample of youth with ASD was confirmed.  These findings contribute further support for the SRS as a valid measure of social impairment among high functioning youth with ASD.

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