Video-Referenced Ratings Assessing Social Behavior in Hispanic Toddlers
Childhood development involves a complex interplay of cognitive, communicative, and social skills; deficits in any of these areas comprise key characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Most important to this study is early detection of impairments in reciprocal social behavior (RSB) (i.e., the drive to engage others and ability to interpret and respond to interpersonal cues). Although psychometrically-sound diagnostic tools measuring RSB exist, instruments for assessing RSB in toddlers under age 2, a critical and rapid developmental period, have been only minimally validated (Marrus et al., 2015) and only within a Caucasian sample.
This study aimed to replicate previous findings by Marrus and colleagues (2015) in order to test the utility and external validity of the Video-referenced RSB (vrRSB) measure. Due to the largely biological, developmental nature of RSB, we predicted that results would replicate across samples.
Hispanic families with twins were recruited from California birth records (large majority were bilingual). Of the 2874 families targeted for the CA-ERSB study, 335 families responded to the recruitment mailing, 41 families opted out, 143 families were ineligible, and 151 families enrolled in the study. As a part of a larger battery, enrolled families were administered vrRSB across two waves of data collection and the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) and the MacArthur-Bates Communitive Disorders Inventory (CDI) across one wave of data collection. Descriptive statistics were conducted to examine vrRSB score distributions and sample characteristics. Chronbach’s alpha and intraclass correlations examined test-retest reliability, Pearson correlations and independent samples t-test examined concurrent validity, and a repeated measures t-test examined developmental progression of RSB over a 6 month period.
Analyses indicted that scores on the vrRSB were continuously distributed. Six-month reliability (a = 0.814; ICC=0.687, p=0.000) and validity were established. Video-referenced RSB total scores were inversely correlated with receptive (r=-0.235, p=0.000) and expressive (r=-0.373, p=0.000) language scores on CDI and vrRSB total score means were significantly different for those who failed (n=46; m=34.09, SD=11.68) versus passed (n=254; m=20.84, SD=7.59) the M-CHAT (t=-7.42, df=52, p=0.000)]. In order to examine developmental progression of RSB, mean changes in vrRSB scores across wave 1 (m=22.83, SD=9.59) and wave 2 (m=20.07, SD=10.22) were examined. Results indicated improved social competency over time; change scores were in the expected direction and were significantly different across two time points (t=6.114, df=301, p=0.000).
Results from Marrus et al. (2015) were replicated providing support for the external validity of the vrRSB across ethnicities and geographic regions. Like autistic trait ratings in school-aged children, toddlers’ scores on the vrRSB demonstrated high inter-individual stability, moderate concurrent validity, and significant developmental progression over a six month. These findings supported “downward extension” of early detection of ASD and provided evidence for the vrRSB’s ability to monitor changes over time. Thus, the vrRSB is a promising assessment option for early identification and intervention of ASD in diverse populations.