Predictors of Parent-Teacher Agreement on Emotional and Behavioral Problems and Autism Symptoms in Youth with ASD and Their Typically Developing Siblings

Thursday, May 12, 2016: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
E. A. Stratis1,2 and L. Lecavalier1, (1)The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, (2)The Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, MD
Background: It is often desired to elicit information from multiple informants when conducting psychological assessments of children. However, agreement between informants is imperfect, typically falling in the moderate range. Discrepancies between informants reflect, in part, contextual variations in children’s behavior. For typically developing (TD) youth, several variables predict these discrepancies, including child and parent demographic characteristics. Despite being widely studied in TD youth, few consistent predictors have been identified. Additionally, limited information is available regarding predictors of informant agreement in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Objectives: This study evaluated the magnitude of parent-teacher agreement on emotional and behavioral problems and symptoms of ASD, while also considering a number of demographic and clinical features as predictors of agreement. Comparisons were made across youth with ASD and their TD siblings.

Methods: Data from 618 families in the Simons Simplex Collection were utilized for this project. All of these families had complete parent and teacher ratings for both the child with ASD and the TD sibling. The Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA) was used to measure behavior and emotional problems and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) was used to measure ASD symptoms. Magnitude of agreement was investigated utilizing Pearson and Intraclass Correlations. Predictors of agreement were considered in hierarchical regression analyses, utilizing three types of parent-teacher discrepancy scores as outcome variables.

Results: For children with ASD, parent-teacher agreement fell in the moderate range (r ranging .26 to .36) with no significant differences across type of problem assessed (externalizing behavior, internalizing behavior, ASD symptoms). For TD siblings, agreement also fell in the moderate range (r ranging .22 to .33), and agreement was significant higher for externalizing problems than internalizing problems and ASD symptoms.

Predictors of agreement varied across children with ASD and TD siblings. For children with ASD, child IQ, parent reported emotional and behavioral problems, and parent and teacher report of ASD symptoms predicted parent-teacher agreement on the ASEBA scales. On the SRS, child IQ, child receptive language, clinician rated ASD symptoms, adaptive behavior, and parent and teacher reported emotional and behavioral problems were significant predictors of parent-teacher agreement. For TD siblings, parent and teacher reported ASD symptoms, and parental race and education were the only consistent predictors of parent-teacher agreement on the ASEBA scales. On the SRS, child sex, child race, parent and teacher rated emotional and behavioral problems, parental education, and parental broader autism phenotype characteristics were predictors of parent-teacher agreement.

Conclusions: This study highlights that the magnitude of parent-teacher agreement is similar across children with ASD and TD children, although patterns of agreement vary across these populations. Further, the factors that influence parent-teacher agreement on emotional and behavioral problems and ASD symptoms may vary across children with ASD and TD children. This implies that past research in TD children cannot be simply extended to children with ASD, and further research is needed to clarify what factors are associated with informant agreement in children with ASD to identify when the use of multiple informants is the most critical.