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Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale (ASDS)

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Dr. Brenda Smith Myles is Chief of Programs for the Autism Society.  She has made over 500 presentations across the world, written over 150 articles and books on autism and Asperger Syndrome and is on the executive board of several organizations.  She is also one of the authors of the Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale, also known as the ASDS.   The ASDS is a rating scale that can help to determine whether an individual has Asperger Syndrome.

Hi! My name is Brenda Smith Myles.  I am Chief of Programs for the Autism Society and I am here to discuss the Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale that I developed along with Stacey Jones Bock and Richard L. Simpson.  The ASDS was developed using DSM IV criteria, World Health Organization criteria, a review of all literature, meaning all research articles on Asperger Syndrome.  Also it was developed using Hans Asperger’s original criteria.  The ASDS was further validated by two large-scale studies conducted at the University of Kansas by my graduate students and I.   When the scale was developed, it was normed with approximately 250 children and youth.  These individuals had Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Behavior Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Learning Disabilities.  We wanted to be able to differentiate Asperger Syndrome from other exceptionalities.  The scale is for individuals from ages 5 to 18 and contains 50 items.  The items are rated as either observed or not observed.  They fall in the following categories:  Language, Social, Behavior, Cognition and Sensorimotor.  The ASDS yields a score called the ASQ or the Asperger Syndrome Quotient.  The Language Subscale contains items, for example, such as: Talks excessively about favorite topics that hold limited interest for others; Uses words or phrases repetitively; Does not understand subtle jokes; or Interprets conversations literally. 

The Social Subscale contains many items including: The individual prefers to be in the company of adults than peers; Has few or no friends in spite of wanting to have them; Has little or no ability to make or keep friends; and Does not respect personal space.  The Behavior Subscale called the Maladaptive Subscale has items such as: The individual becomes anxious when unscheduled events occur; The individual displays behaviors that are immature or similar to those of a much younger child; The individual has behaviors that don’t match the environment; and Engaging in behavior related to special interests.  In addition, Cognition is addressed such as: The individual learns best when pictures or written words are used; The individual has average to above average intelligence; He or she is aware that he or she is different from others; Superior knowledge in an area of special interest; He or she is oversensitive to criticism; Lacks organizational skills; and Has challenges with common sense.  The Sensorimotor Subscale has items that relate to:  Displaying an unusual reaction to loud noises; Pulling away when hugged; Overreacting to smells that others may not be aware of; The individual may prefer to wear clothes of only certain fabrics; Is clumsy or awkward; and has handwriting difficulty.  The ASDS yields raw scores, percentile ranks, an ASQ whose mean is 100 and an ASQ for individuals without Asperger Syndrome whose mean is 74.

Statistics calculated on the ASDS indicated that its reliability is very high.  It predicts group membership with 85% accuracy.  A study conducted by Boggs and colleagues in 2006 found that its predictive ability is at 93%.  The ASQ, the score, that is used to identify whether or not the child may have Asperger Syndrome, as mentioned earlier, its mean is 100.  If the individual has a score of 110 or greater, he is very likely to have Asperger Syndrome.  If she has a score from 90 to 110 it is likely she has Asperger Syndrome.  A score of 80 to 89 indicates the possibility of Asperger Syndrome.  A score of 70 to 79 indicates he or she is unlikely to have AS, and a score less than 69 indicates the individual is very unlikely to have Asperger Syndrome.   This is a screening measure.  It is designed to be a starting point in identifying whether the individual has Asperger Syndrome.  A multidisciplinary team and parents may complete the scale and use that as a starting point to determine whether the individual is eligible to receive special education services.  Parents who may be seeing a physician to see if their child has Asperger Syndrome may complete the scale in only 10 minutes and use it as a starting point to talk about the characteristics of their son or daughter with a physician.  This screening device is easy to use.  It is in the same format as most PRO-ED publications in that it is easy to complete and easy to score.