There is a significant need to develop valid and reliable social communication assessment tools for young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Social Communication Checklist (SCC) is a new measure designed to provide an assessment of social communication skills, including social engagement, language, social imitation, and play, in young children with ASD. The SCC was developed to aid in intervention planning and goal setting, and to provide a measure of social communication intervention outcome.
The objective of the current study was to validate the SCC by exploring the psychometric properties of the measure. In particular, this study sought to explore the internal consistently, test-rest reliability, inter-rater reliability, and construct validity of the SCC.
Parents, teachers, and therapists of young children with ASD and related social communicated delays completed the SCC, at least one time point, as part of several different intervention studies. Internal consistency, inter-rater reliability, and construct validity, were assessed using data that was collected as part of a study intake assessment battery. Test-retest reliability was calculated using data from the intake battery, as well as from a post-intervention assessment battery administered several months later.
The SCC demonstrated good to excellent internal consistency across both parent and teacher/therapist reports. Bivariate correlations revealed moderate to strong associations between parent and teacher/therapist reports across SCC scales and well as for SCC total scores. Bivariate correlations also indicated strong to moderate test-retest reliability for parent and teacher/therapist reports. Follow up t-tests revealed significant differences between time 1 and time 2 parent and teacher/therapist reports suggesting that this instrument is also sensitive to changes in social communication skills over a short period of time (i.e., 3-4 months). Finally, the SCC scales and total score demonstrated strong negative associations with the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), suggesting that greater social communication skills as measured by the SCC are related to less autistic symptomatology.
This initial exploration of the psychometric properties of the SCC suggests that it performs well as an assessment of social communication skills in young children with ASD. Moreover, it appears to be sensitive to changes in core social communication skills over a relatively brief period of time. Thus, results from this study provide initial evidence for the validity of the measure and suggest that it may be a useful social communication assessment tool to use with young children with ASD.
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