Building a theoretical framework for autism spectrum disorders screening instruments in Europe

María Magán-Maganto, Sigrídur Lóa Jónsdóttir, Ana B. Sánchez-García, Patricia García-Primo, Annika Hellendoorn, Tony Charman, Herbert Roeyers, Mieke Dereu, Irma Moilanen, Filippo Muratori, Manuel Posada de la Paz, Bernadette Rogé, Iris J. Oosterling, Anneli Yliherva, Ricardo Canal-Bedia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study addresses the need for a theoretical base to develop more effective early autism spectrum disorders (ASD) detection tools. The structure that underlies early ASD detection is explored by evaluating the opinions of experts on ASD screening tools currently used in Europe. Method: A process of face and content validity was performed. First, the best constructs were selected from the relevant tests: Checklist for Early Signs of Developmental Disorders (CESDD), Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT), Early Screening of Autistic Traits Questionnaire (ESAT), Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) and Communication and Symbolic Behaviour Scales Developmental Profile (CSBS-DP). The diagnostic content validity model by Fehring (1986, 1994) was adapted to make the selection. Afterwards, the items, taken from these tests, were selected to fit into each construct, using the same methodology. Results: Twelve of the 18 constructs were selected by the experts and 11 items were chosen from a total of 130, reduced to eight after eliminating tautologies. Conclusions: Mapping these constructs and items on to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ASD indicated good face and content validity. Results of this research will contribute to efforts to improve early ASD screening instruments and identify the key behaviours that experts in ASD see as the most relevant for early detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Autism
  • early detection
  • Europe
  • face and content validity
  • instrumental study
  • screening tools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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