ASSERT - The Autism Symptom SElf-ReporT for adolescents and adults: Bifactor analysis and validation in a large adolescent population
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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With a view to developing a brief screening instrument for autism symptoms in a general population of adolescents, seven items from the Asperger syndrome (and high-functioning autism) diagnostic interview were adapted for use as self-report in an online questionnaire for youths aged 16–19 years (N = 10,220). The selected items target lack of social understanding (4 items) and rigid and repetitive behavior and interests (RRBI; 3 items). Factor analyses were performed, and the seven items were also validated against self-reported ASD diagnosis. Best statistical model fit was found for a bifactor model with one general factor and two domain specific factors tied to social difficulties and RRBI. Both the general and the domain specific factors were associated with self-reported ASD diagnoses. The scale (referred to as the Autism Symptom SElf-ReporT for Adolescents and Adults – ASSERT) had good screening properties with a receiver operating curve-area under the curve (ROC-AUC) of 0.87 and a diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) of 15.8. Applying a modified scoring of the scale further improved the screening properties leading to a ROC-AUC of 0.89 and a DOR of 24.9. The ASSERT holds promise as a brief self-report screen for autism symptoms in adolescents, and further studies should explore its usefulness for adults.