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Child Behavior Checklist Clinical Scales Discriminate Referred Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Preliminary Study

Biederman, Joseph MD*; Petty, Carter R. MA*; Fried, Ronna EdD*; Wozniak, Janet MD*; Micco, Jamie A. PhD*; Henin, Aude PhD*; Doyle, Robert MD*; Joshi, Gagan MD*; Galdo, Maribel MSW*; Kotarski, Meghan MBA*; Caruso, Janet BA*; Yorks, Dayna BA*; Faraone, Stephen V. PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: July-August 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 6 - p 485-490
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181e56ddd
Original Article

Objective: To evaluate the properties of clinical scales of the Child Behavior Checklist in discriminating referred children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) (autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) from psychiatrically referred children without ASDs.

Method: Comparisons were made between children with ASDs (n = 65) with intelligence quotient >70 and children without ASDs (N = 83) on the clinical scales of the Child Behavior Checklist. Stepwise logistic regression was used to identify those scales that best predicted ASDs when compared with the non-ASD comparison group. Receiver operating characteristic curves examined the ability of the significant predictor T-scores to identify ASDs versus the non-ASD subjects.

Results: Withdrawn, Social Problems, and Thought Problems T-scores were the best independent predictors of ASD status. The Withdrawn + Social + Thought Problems T-scores yielded an area under the curve of 0.86, indicating an 86% chance that a randomly selected sample of ASD subject will have abnormal scores on these scales than a randomly selected sample of non-ASD subjects.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that a new Child Behavior Checklist-ASD profile consisting of the Child Behavior Checklist-Withdrawn, Social, and Thought Problems scales could serve as a rapid and cost-effective screening instrument to help identify cases likely to meet clinical criteria for ASDs in the clinical setting.

From the *Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; †Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY.

Received December 2009; accepted April 2010.

This work was supported in part by a grant to the Alan and Lorraine Bressler Clinical and Research Program for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Address for reprints: Joseph Biederman, MD, Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Warren 705, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.