What We Can Learn from Adult Self-Report Versions of Parent-Report Measures: Results of a Pilot Study

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
E. T. Crehan1,2, O. Ward1 and R. R. Althoff3, (1)Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study & Human Development, Tufts University, Medford, MA, (2)Department of Psychiatry, AARTS Center, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, (3)Departments of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, MA

Self-report measures allow researchers and clinicians to hear directly from individuals about their strengths and concerns. However, the development of self-report measures often involves simply switching the perspective of the question (e.g., from “How often does your child…” to “How often do you…”) without assessing whether responses capture the same phenomenon as the parent report. Previous work has shown inconsistencies between parent- and self-report (Robinson et al., 2018). In this pilot study, we explore this effect in autism-specific and general self-report measures in a group of adults.


Illustrate how adult self-report measures coincide with previous work with parent-report measures and younger populations


We recruited 32 adults (14 with a diagnosis of autism,18 without). Participants completed a social responsiveness scale (SRS-2-SR, Constantino, 2012), Theory of Mind Inventory (ToMI; Hutchins, Prelock, & Bonazinga, 2012), Liebowitz social anxiety screener (LSAS; Fresco et al., 2001), adaptive scales from the Adult Self-Report (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2003), eye tracking paradigms, and a brief IQ screener (WASI; Wechsler, 1999). Self-report scores were compared by diagnosis and correlations among self-report measures were explored.


Complete data were available on 30 participants. Predicted significant group differences emerged between the autistic and non-autistic groups on the autism-specific measures, with the autistic group reporting lower scores on the advanced ToMI scale t(30) = 3.636, p=.001 and four of the SRS subscales; cognition t(15.421) = -3.302, p=.005, communication t(30) = -4.209, p<.001, motivation t(30) = -3.847, p=.001, and autistic mannerisms t(15.133) = -4.544, p<.001.The autistic group scored significantly higher on the LSAS Fear/Anxiety scale t(30) = -2.321 p = .027. On the ASR adaptive scales, the autistic group demonstrated significantly lower scores on the family t(28) = 2.73, p = 0.011 and friends scales t(28) = 2.094, p = .045.

Exploratory correlations between self-report measures showed that SRS motivation was significantly correlated with early Theory of Mind (r= -.499 p<.005) and SRS Communication was significant at the trend level (r= -.476, p = .006). Early ToMI was significantly correlated with LSAS Avoidance (r = -.526, p<.005).


The use of self-report measures is critical to focus research on the needs and wants of a studied population. Particularly in the study of autism and developmental disabilities, incorporating the perspectives of impacted individuals has not consistently been a research priority. We must develop strong methodological approaches to reflects the interests of autistic adults. Even in this small sample, our data show similar group differences on autism-specific measures as observed in parent-report measures. Exploratory correlations reflect trends from studies in younger samples. For instance, although the effect is smaller, the pattern of correlations between ToM and social responsiveness is similar in shape to the pattern shown in childhood (Lei & Ventola, 2018). Consistent with our findings, the relation between ToM and later social functioning has seemed weak in other studies using parent-report (Bennett et al., 2013).Next steps include directly comparing parent- and self-report measures in an adult population to illustrate what information is being missed by relying solely on parent report.