Assessment Modality (Parent Questionnaire vs. Clinical Interview) Impacts Adaptive Functioning Scores in Preschoolers at Heightened Genetic Risk of ASD
Objectives: Determine which modality of assessment (parent report or clinician interview) better characterizes adaptive functioning by comparing scores on two commonly used assessments (the Adaptive Behaviors Assessment System, Second Edition (ABAS-II) Parent Form, and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II (VABS-II) Survey Interview Form) with each other and with a measure of general developmental functioning (the Mullen Scales of Early Learning; MSEL).
Methods: Twenty-six 3-year-olds returned for a diagnostic visit as part of their participation in the longitudinal Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS). Participants fell into one of two groups: (1) at high-familial risk for ASD by virtue of having an older sibling with ASD, but not currently diagnosed with ASD themselves (HR-neg, N=20) and (2) at low-familial risk for ASD with no ASD diagnosis themselves (LR; N=6). All parents were mailed the ABAS-II to complete at home, while the MSEL and VABS-II were administered during the diagnostic visit.
Results: Across all domains of developmental function, children in both groups performed in the average range (Table 1) and did not differ significantly from one another (Welch’s ps<.10). Within-group correlations were performed to assess relationships between VABS-II, ABAS-II, and MSEL scores. In the HR-neg group, VABS-II scores correlated with scores on the MSEL, while ABAS-II did not. In contrast, neither VABS-II nor ABAS-II scores correlated with MSEL scores in the LR group (which we will add to by the conference date).
Conclusions: Preliminary analyses indicate that the modality of assessment (parent questionnaire vs. clinical interview) impacts children’s adaptive functioning scores, particularly when children are at heightened genetic risk for ASD. Our findings suggest that since parents of HR-neg children might not have a typical model to compare against when independently completing a questionnaire about adaptive functioning, that a clinical interview could provide critical support to more accurately capture children’s strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, researchers should be cautious in assuming that different measures of adaptive behaviors are comparable in this age range and in HR samples.