Objectives: To examine the diagnostic discriminative utility of the Social Attribution Task – Multiple Choice (SAT-MC), and to assess its differential predictive power relative to social- communicative adaptive function, independent of verbal skill levels.
Methods: The SAT-MC was administered to a heterogeneous group of children with ASD characterized with standardized diagnostic procedures (N=23; Age range 4.5 to 12 years; VIQ range 62 to 146), and to a control group matched on chronological age and Verbal IQ (N= 57). Adaptive skills in the areas of Communication, Socialization and Daily Living Skills were assessed with the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Correct answers on 19 items yielded a global SAT-MC score. Between-group comparisons on the SAT-MC score were performed to assess diagnostic discriminative utility. For the ASD group, correlational analyses between SAT-MC score and Vineland scores in the Communication and Social domains were performed to assess differential predictive utility, relative to the unrelated construct of Daily Living Skills. We performed correlations with Age and Verbal IQ in order to ensure that the SAT-MC taps on a developmental skill and is relatively independent from verbal skill level, respectively. Finally, individual SAT-MC items were analyzed for their specific discriminative power.
Results: Performance on the SAT-MC differed significantly between the ASD and TD groups. SAT-MC scores were positively correlated with age (r= .474) and were independent from Verbal IQ (r= .236). SAT-MC scores were strongly correlated with Vineland Communication (r= .464) and Socialization (r= .482) standard scores but not with Vineland Daily Living scores (r= .116). Item analyses revealed variability of individual items’ diagnostic discriminative power.
Conclusions: The SAT-MC was shown to discriminate a heterogeneous group of children with ASD from matched controls, and to differentially predict levels of social and communicative adaptive skills independently from verbal function. This initial study corroborates previously demonstrated deficits in social attribution and holds promise for quantification of skills that are essential for successful adaption in real life.
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