Background: The Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) is a checklist for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly used in research and clinical practice. While the original validation study suggested that the SCQ was an accurate ASD screener with satisfactory sensitivity and specificity, subsequent studies have yielded mixed results, with some revealing low sensitivity, low specificity, and low utility in some settings. Method: The present study examined the psychometric properties of the SCQ as well as the individual difference characteristics of 187 individuals with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who were misclassified or accurately classified by the SCQ in a clinic-referred sample. Results: The SCQ showed suboptimal sensitivity and specificity, regardless of age and sex. Compared to true positives, individuals classified as false positives displayed greater externalizing and internalizing problems, whereas individuals classified as false negatives displayed better social communication and adaptive skills. Conclusions: The findings suggest that non-autistic developmental and behavioral individual difference characteristics may explain high rates of misclassification using the SCQ. Clinicians and researchers could consider using the SCQ in combination with other tools for young children with internalizing and externalizing symptoms and other more complex clinical presentations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRF 00074041) to M. Altschuler. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature.
- Adaptive behavior
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Early identification
- Individual differences
- Social Communication Questionnaire
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.