Clinical and adaptive skill characteristics of children with autistic spectrum disorders using the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition
Knoll, Valerie Ann
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School psychologists are being confronted with increasing numbers of students suspected of having an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and are regularly asked to provide their clinical impressions, and to contribute meaningfully to screening and diagnostic efforts. Despite the clear assessment needs implied by this trend, little research has been directed toward instruments common to practicing school psychologists that may assist in screening and diagnosing these students. In the present study, the Behavioral System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2) was examined to determine if this widely used rating scale can provide potentially useful information for school psychologists screening for ASDs. BASC-2 parent rating scales were completed for 79 children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs; i.e., high functioning autism, Asperger's disorder, pervasive developmental disorder--not otherwise specified), 42 children with low functioning autism spectrum disorders(LFASDs; i.e., low functioning autism, pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified), and 66 typically developing children (TC). All omnibus F tests comparing the three groups on the BASC-2 composite, clinical, adaptive, and content scores were significant at an alpha level of .05, indicating that each composite and scale demonstrated significant differences between groups. All composite scales, adaptive scales and content scales, along with the Hyperactivity, Anxiety, Atypicality, Withdrawal and Attention Problems clinical scales, were able to differentiate between typically developing children and those with ASDs. With the exception of the Atypicality, Attention Problems, and Bullying scales, all other scales were able to differentiate between children with LFASDs and HFASDs. Six different step-wise discriminant function analyses (DFAs) were run using three different sets of BASC-2 information (i.e., composites only; clinical and adaptive scales only; and clinical, adaptive, and content scales only) with and without IQ. All DFAs yielded a classification accuracy rate of at least 95%. These findings indicated that the BASC-2 may be useful tool for providing practitioners with relevant information prior to the classification of a child with an ASD. Implications for practitioners are discussed, along with study limitations, and directions for future research in this area.
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