Developing a classification system of social communication functioning of preschool children with autism spectrum disorder
Di Rezze, Briano; Rosenbaum, Peter; Zwaigenbaum, Lonnie; Cooley Hidecker, Mary Jo; Stratford, Paul; Cousins, Martha; Camden, Chantal; Law, Mary
SubjectClassification of functioning
Background: Impairments in social communication are the hallmark feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Operationalizing ‘severity’ in ASD has been challenging; thus stratifying by functioning has not been possible. Purpose: To describe the development of the Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF:SC) and evaluate its consistency within and between parent and professional ratings. Methodology: (1)ACSF:SC development based on focus groups and surveys involving parents, educators and clinicians familiar with preschoolers with ASD; and (2)Evaluation of the intra- and inter-rater agreement of the ACSF:SC using weighted kappa(кw). Results: Seventy-six participants were involved in the development process. Core characteristics of social communication were ascertained: communicative intent; communicative skills and reciprocity; and impact of environment. Five ACSF:SC levels were created and content-validated across participants. Best capacity and typical performance agreement ratings varied as follows: intra-rater on 41 children was кw=0.61-0.69 for parents and кw=0.71-0.95 for professionals; inter-rater between professionals were кw=0.47-0.61 and between parents and professionals кw=0.33-0.53. Conclusions: Perspectives from parents, and professionals informed ACSF:SC development, providing common descriptions of the levels of everyday communicative abilities of children with ASD to complement DSM-5. Rater agreement demonstrates the ACSF:SC can be utilized with acceptable consistency in comparison to other functional classification systems.