Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder with the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment Scales

Anne Deckers*, Peter Muris, Jeffrey Roelofs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Integrating a screening possibility for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within the widely applied Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA) scales could be of great value for daily clinical practice. The present study explored the ability of the school-aged Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Teacher’s Report Form (TRF) to screen for ASD in children and adolescents (aged 6 to 18 years) within a mixed clinically referred sample. Different screening variants were compared for the CBCL, TRF, and the combination of CBCL and TRF: the separate withdrawn/depressed, social problems, and thought problems syndrome scales; combinations of these syndrome scales; and special ASD scales composed of relevant individual items. Analyses were performed for: youth with a DSM-IV-based clinical diagnosis; youth for which the clinical DSM-IV diagnosis was confirmed by a standardized assessment (the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised); and youth with a DSM-IV- based clinical diagnosis of ASD that also met the DSM-5 criteria. The results clearly demonstrated that the special ASEBA-based scales – in particular when completed by the parents – were most predictive of ASD. The results also indicate that following the initial screen with these ASEBA scales, further thorough diagnostic assessment is necessary to definitively establish whether young people really suffer from ASD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number1
Early online dateMar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Achenbach system of empirically based assessment (ASEBA)
  • Children and adolescents
  • Screening
  • CBCL
  • ADHD

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