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The Utility of the BASC-2 Content Scales for Identifying Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thursday, 2 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
L. E. Bradstreet1, D. L. Robins2 and T. Z. King2, (1)Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, (2)Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Background: The Behavioral Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004), is a comprehensive rating system that identifies adaptive and maladaptive patterns of behavior in school-aged children and adolescents. Profiles of scores on the BASC-2 clinical (e.g., Hyperactivity, Anxiety) and adaptive (e.g., Adaptability, Functional Communication) scales on the Parent Rating Scales are useful for differentiating between children with and without autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  In addition to these scales, the BASC-2 also includes seven empirically and theoretically developed Content Scales representing underlying dimensional domains of clinically relevant behaviors: Anger Control, Bullying, Developmental Social Disorders, Emotional Self-Control, Executive Functioning, Negative Emotionality, and Resiliency. Currently, few studies have examined the utility of these scales for identifying children and adolescents with ASD (e.g., Volker et al., 2010). 

Objectives: The purpose of this project is to test the hypothesis that the BASC-2 Content Scales will differentiate between school-aged children with and without ASD. 

Methods: As part of a larger test battery, BASC-2 Parent Rating Scales were completed by the primary caregivers of 25 children and adolescents with ASD and 32 children and adolescents without ASD between the ages of 7-17 years old (M = 12.3, SD= 2.6). Diagnoses for individuals with ASD were confirmed by expert clinicians using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised. All participants also received the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence. Initial analyses included independent samples t-tests to determine if mean scores on the BASC-2 Content Scales differ between the ASD and Control groups and chi-square tests to examine whether T-scores on Content Scales in the “Clinically Significant” range relate to diagnostic categorization of participants.

Results:  No significant differences were found between the average Full Scale IQ scores in the ASD group (M = 106.68, SD = 20.22) and the Control group (M = 107.16, SD = 13.91), t(40.72) = 0.10, p = .92. The ASD group showed significantly higher levels of problematic behaviors on all seven BASC-2 Content Scales compared to the Control group (all ps < .002). Additionally, there were significant associations between diagnostic group and the number of T-scores in the “Clinically Significant” range on Developmental Social Disorders χ2 (1, N = 57) = 21.66, p < .001, Anger Control χ2 (1, N = 57) = 5.99, p < .05, and Resiliency χ2 (1, N = 57) = 18.09, p < .001.  The ASD group had a higher number of clinically significant T-scores on these Content Scales than the Control group.

Conclusions:  The present data indicate that the BASC-2 Content Scales successfully differentiate between children and adolescents with and without ASD. Specifically, clinically significant scores on the Developmental Social Disorders, Anger Control, and Resiliency Content Scales were associated with diagnostic group membership. This information is particularly relevant in the context of determining whether BASC-2 Content Scales could potentially provide useful screening information for ASD in settings where ASD-specific screening tools are not available or it is not feasible to administer several disorder-specific tools.

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