Popular Screening Tools for Aspergers and Autism

Question

What kind of assessment tools do clinicians use when they are trying to determine whether or not a child or teen has Aspergers or Autism?

Answer

There are many (with new ones coming along all the time) …so I have listed the “most used” screening tools to date. These include:

1. Aspergers/High Functioning Autism (HFA) Screening Tools
2. Autism Screening Tools
3. Developmental and Behavioral Screening Tools

Aspergers/HFA Screening Tools (4 years to adult) —

Most Aspergers/HFA screening tools are designed for use with older kids, and are used to differentiate these disorders from other ASDs and/or other developmental disorders (e.g., mental retardation and language delays). These tools concentrate on social and behavioral impairment in kids four years of age and older (up to adulthood), who usually develop without significant language delay. Qualitatively, these tools are quite different from the early childhood screening tools, highlighting more social-conversational and perseverative-behavioral concerns.
  • Australian Scale for Asperger Syndrome (ASAS) by Michelle Garnett, M. Clinical Psychology, Anthony Attwood, Ph.D. (for kids 5 and older)
  • Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) by Stephen Ehlers, Ph.D., Christopher Gillberg, Ph.D., Lorna Wing, Ph.D. (Published in 1999 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29,129-141) (for kids 7-16)
  • Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) by Catherine Lord, Ph.D., Sir Michael Rutter, Ph.D., et al. (for kids 4 and older)

Autism Screening Tools (4 years to adult) —

Most autism screening tools are designed to detect ASDs specifically, concentrate on social and communication impairment in kids 18 months of age and older, and focus on all three DSM-IV criteria for autism. Their limitations lie in the lack of highly validated autism screening tools available for kids under 18 months of age. Since autism screening ideally would follow a developmental screening that has indicated concerns, the administering clinician should directly observe the youngster in addition to using an autism screening tool questionnaire.
  • Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) by Diana Robins, M.A., Deborah Fein, Ph.D., et al. (for kids 16-30 months)

Developmental and Behavioral Screening Tools (Birth to 36 Months) —

Most developmental and behavioral screening tools have a wide application with kids of varying ages, allow flexibility to capture “parent report’ with minimal assistance, ask less threatening and more universal questions of mothers and fathers, and coordinate with hallmark developmental milestones. Because of their broad use, developmental and behavioral tools often lack the sensitivity to screen specifically for autism and therefore require follow up with an autism screening tool when a developmental screening raises concerns.
  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) by Jane Squires, Ph.D. & Diane Bricker, Ph.D. et al. (for kids 1-66 months)
  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional (ASQ:SE) by Jane Squires, Ph.D. & Diane Bricker, Ph.D. & Elizabeth Twombly, M.S. (for kids 6-60 months)
  • Brief-Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Assessment (BITSEA) by Margaret Briggs-Gowan, Ph.D. and Alice Carter, Ph.D. (for kids 12-36 months)
  • Child Development Inventory by Harold Ireton, Ph.D. et al. (for kids 0-6 years)
  • CSBS DP Infant-Toddler Checklist by Amy Wetherby, Ph.D. & Barry Prizant, Ph.D. (for kids 6-24 months)
  • Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) by Frances Page Glascoe, Ph.D. (for kids 0-8 years)
  • Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status-Developmental Milestones (PEDS:DM) by Frances Page Glascoe, Ph.D. (for kids 0-8 years)
  • Social-Emotional Growth Chart by Stanley I. Greenspan, MD (for kids 0-42 months)
  • Temperament and Atypical Behavior Scale (TABS) by Stephen J. Bagnato, Ed.D., John T. Neisworth, Ph.D., et al. (for kids 11-71 months)
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

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