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The Early Sociocognitive Battery: a clinical tool for early identification of children at risk for social communication difficulties and ASD?

Roy, P. and Chiat, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-8981-8153 (2019). The Early Sociocognitive Battery: a clinical tool for early identification of children at risk for social communication difficulties and ASD?. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12477

Abstract

BACKGROUND: A substantial proportion of preschool children referred to speech and language therapy (SLT) services have social communication difficulties and/or autistic spectrum disorders (SC&/ASD) that are not identified until late childhood. These 'late' diagnosed children miss opportunities to benefit from earlier targeted interventions. Prior evidence from a follow-up clinical sample showed that preschool performance on the Early Sociocognitive Battery (ESB) was a good predictor of children with social communication difficulties 7-8 years later. AIMS: The aims were three-fold: (1) to determine the impact of child/demographic factors on ESB performance in a community sample of young children; (2) to assess the ESB's concurrent validity and test-retest reliability; and (3) to use cut-offs for 'low' ESB performance derived from the community sample data to evaluate in a clinical sample the predictiveness of the ESB at 2-4 years for outcomes at 9-11 years, including parent-reported SC&/ASD diagnosis.

METHODS & PROCEDURES: A community sample of 205 children aged 2-4 years was assessed on the ESB and a receptive vocabulary test. A subsample (n = 20) was retested on the ESB within 2 weeks. Parents completed a questionnaire providing background child/demographic information. The clinical sample from our previous study comprised 93 children assessed on the ESB at 2;6 to < 4;0 whose parents completed the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), our measure of social communication, when the children were 9-11 years. Cut-offs for 'low' ESB performance derived from the community sample were used to determine the predictive validity of 'low' ESB scores for social communication outcomes and parent-reported SC&/ASD diagnosis according to age of ESB assessment.

OUTCOME & RESULTS: Findings from the community sample confirmed the ESB as psychometrically robust, sensitive to age and language delay, and, in contrast to the receptive vocabulary measure, unaffected by bilingualism. While overall associations between ESB performance and later social communication difficulties in the clinical sample were particularly strong for the youngest age group (2;6 to < 3;0; r = .71, p < .001), 'low' ESB performance was equally predictive across age groups and overall identified 89% of children with 'late' SC&/ASD diagnoses (sensitivity), and 75% of those without (specificity).

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Results indicate that the ESB is a valid preschool assessment suitable for use with children from diverse language backgrounds. It identifies deficits in key sociocognitive skills and is predictive of social communication difficulties in school-age children that had not been identified in preschool clinical assessment, supporting earlier targeted interventions for these children.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Roy, P. and Chiat, S. (2019). The Early Sociocognitive Battery: a clinical tool for early identification of children at risk for social communication difficulties and ASD?. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12477. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Publisher Keywords: early identification, late diagnosis, social communication, ASD/autistic spectrum disorders, socioeconomic, bilingual
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Language & Communication Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/22342
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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