Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1833–1840 | Cite as

Brief Report: How Accurate is Teacher Report of Autism Symptoms Compared to Parent Report?

  • Susan D. Mayes
  • Robin Lockridge
Brief Report


The Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder (CASD) completed by a psychologist (following standardized procedures integrating parent interview data, teacher report, and clinical observations) was compared with the CASD completed independently by mothers and teachers in 168 children with ASD and 40 with ADHD (1–12 years). The 30 CASD autism symptoms are scored as present or absent. Using mother scores 36% of children with ASD scored below the autism diagnostic cutoff, and 75% scored below the cutoff based on teacher scores. Many symptoms deemed present by the psychologist were not reported on the mother and teacher CASD. Mother-teacher correlations indicated little correspondence. Mother and teacher CASD scores should never be used alone. Diagnostic instruments must be administered following standardized procedures.


Autism symptoms Mother, teacher, and psychologist agreement Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder 


Author Contributions

SM and RL both contributed to designing the study, collecting and entering data, analyzing data, and writing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study formal consent is not required.


  1. Bird, H. R., Gould, M. S., & Staghezza, B. (1992). Aggregating data from multiple informants in child psychiatry epidemiological research. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31, 78–85. .CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bixler, E. O., Vgontzas, A. N., Lin, H.-M., Calhoun, S., Vela-Bueno, A., Fedok, F., et al. (2009). Sleep disordered breathing in children in a general population sample: Prevalence and risk factors. Sleep, 32, 731–736.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Briggs-Gowan, M. J., Carter, A. S., & Schwab-Stone, M. (1996). Discrepancies among mother, child, and teacher reports: Examining the contributions of maternal depression and anxiety. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 749–765.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Craig, W. M., & Peplar, D. J. (1997). Observations of bullying and victimization in the school yard. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 13, 41–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crane, J., Mincic, M. S., & Winsler, A. (2011). Parent-teacher agreement and reliability on the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) in English and Spanish for ethnically diverse children living in poverty. Early Education and Development, 22, 520–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dinnebeil, L. A., Sawyer, B. E., Logan, J., Dynia, J. M., Cancio, E., et al. (2012). Influences on the congruence between parents’ and teachers’ ratings of young children’s social skills and problem behaviors. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28, 144–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Follan, M., Anderson, S., Huline-Dickens, S., Lidstone, E., Young, D., et al. (2011). Discrimination between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reactive attachment disorder in school age children. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32, 520–526.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gadow, K. D., & Drabick, D. A. G. (2012). Anger and irritability symptoms among youth with ODD: Cross-informant versus source-exclusive syndromes. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40, 1073–1085.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Gagnon, C., Vitaro, F., & Tremblay, R. E. (1992). Parent-teacher agreement on kindergarteners’ behavior problems: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 33, 1255–1261.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581–586.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Harvey, E. A., Fischer, C., Weieneth, J. L., Hurwitz, S. D., & Sayer, A. G. (2013). Predictors of discrepancies between informants’ ratings of preschool-aged children’s behavior: An examination of ethnicity, child characteristics, and family functioning. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28, 668–682.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Kamio, Y., Moriwaki, A., & Inada, N. (2013). Utility of teacher-report assessments of autistic severity in Japanese school children. Autism Research and Treatment, 2013, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kolko, D. J., & Kazdin, A. E. (1993). Emotional/behavioral problems in clinic and nonclinic children: Correspondence among child, parent, and teacher reports. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 34, 991–1006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Kumpulainen, K., Rasanen, E., Henttonen, I., Almqvist, F., Kresanov, K., et al. (1998). Bullying and psychiatric symptoms among elementary school-age children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 22, 705–717.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Lindgren, S. D., & Koeppl, G. K. (1987). Assessing child behavior problems in a medical setting: Development of the Pediatric Behavior Scale. In R. J. Prinz (Ed.), Advances in behavioral assessment of children and families (pp. 57–90). Greenwich, CT: JAI.Google Scholar
  16. Loeber, R., Green, S. M., & Lahey, B. B. (1990). Mental health professionals’ perception of the utility of children, mothers, and teachers as informants on childhood psychopathology. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 19, 136–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Loeber, R., Green, S. M., Lahey, B. B., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1991). Differences and similarities between children, mothers, and teachers as informants on disruptive child behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19, 75–95.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Mattison, R. E., Carlson, G. A., Cantwell, D. P., & Asarnow, J. R. (2007). Teacher and parent ratings of children with depressive disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15, 184–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mattison, R. E., & Mayes, S. D. (2012). Relationship between learning disability, executive function, and psychopathology in children with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 16, 138146.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Max, J. E., Arndt, S., Castillo, C., Bokura, H., Robin, D. A., Lindgren, S. D., & Mattheis, P. J. (1997). Attention-deficit hyperactivity symptomatology after traumatic brain injury: A prospective study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 841–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mayes, S. D. (2012). Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Wood Dale, IL: Stoelting.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mayes, S. D. (2017). Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder-Short Form. Wood Dale, IL: Stoelting.Google Scholar
  23. Mayes, S. D., & Calhoun, S. L. (1999). Symptoms of autism in young children and correspondence with the DSM. Infants and Young Children, 12, 90–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mayes, S. D., & Calhoun, S. L. (2002). Comparative and incremental validity of the Gordon Diagnostic System and WISC-III Freedom from Distractibility index in identifying referred children with and without ADHD. Psychological Reports, 91, 575–587.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Mayes, S. D., & Calhoun, S. L. (2004). Influence of IQ and age in childhood autism: Lack of support for DSM-IV Asperger’s disorder. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 16, 257–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mayes, S. D., & Calhoun, S. L. (2011). Impact of IQ, age, SES, gender, and race on autistic symptoms. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 749–757 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., & Crowell, E. (1998). WISC-III Freedom from Distractibility as a measure of attention in children with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Attention Disorders, 2, 217–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., & Crowell, E. W. (2001). Clinical validity and interpretation of the Gordon Diagnostic System in ADHD assessments. Child Neuropsychology, 7, 32–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., Mayes, R. D., & Molitoris, S. (2012). Autism and ADHD: Overlapping and discriminating symptoms. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 277–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., Murray, M. J., Ahuja, M., & Smith, L. A. (2011). Anxiety, depression, and irritability in children with autism relative to children with other neuropsychiatric disorders and typical development. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 474–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., Murray, M. J., Morrow, J. D., Yurich, K. K. L., et al. (2009). Comparison of scores on the Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and Gilliam Asperger’s Disorder Scale (GADS) for children with low functioning autism, high functioning autism or Asperger’s disorder, ADHD, and typical development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 1682–1693.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., Siddiqui, F., Baweja, R., Waschbusch, D., Mattison, R., et al. (2017). Mother, father, and teacher agreement on victimization and bullying in children with mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders. Violence and Victims, 32, 466–478.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., Waschbusch, D., & Baweja, R. (2016b). Autism and reactive attachment/disinhibited social engagement disorders: Co-occurrence and differentiation. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. doi: 10.1177/1359104516678039.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Mayes, S. D., Gordon, M., Calhoun, S. L., & Bixler, E. O. (2014). Long-term temporal stability of measured inattention and impulsivity in typical and referred children. Journal of Attention Disorder, 18, 23–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mayes, S. D., Waxmonsky, J., Waschbusch, D. A., Mattison, R. E., Baweja, R., Hameed, U., et al. (2016a). Mother, father, and teacher agreement on disruptive mood dysregulation disorder symptoms in children with psychiatric disorders. International Journal of Mental Health and Psychiatry. doi: 10.4172/2471-4372.1000123.Google Scholar
  36. Murray, M. J., Mayes, S. D., & Smith, L. A. (2011). Brief report: Excellent agreement between two brief autism scales (Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Social Responsiveness Scale) completed independently by parents and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 1586–1590.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Nichols, S., Mahoney, E. M., Sirois, P. A., Bordeaux, J. D., Stehbens, J. A., Loveland, K. A., & Amodei, N. (2000). HIV-associated changes in adaptive, emotional, and behavioral functioning in children and adolescents with hemophilia: Results from the Hemophilia Growth and Development Study. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 25, 545–556.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Offord, D. R., Boyle, M. H., Racine, Y., Szatmari, P., Fleming, J. E., et al. (1996). Integrating assessment data from multiple informants. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35, 1078–1085.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Pearson, D. A., Aman, M. G., Arnold, L. E., Lane, D. M., Lovelend, K. A., et al. (2012). High concordance of parent and teacher attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ratings in medicated and unmedicated children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 22, 284–291.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Piacentini, J. C., Cohen, P., & Cohen, J. (1992). Combining discrepant diagnostic information from multiple sources: Are complex algorithms better than simple ones? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 20, 51–63.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Posserud, M.-B., Lundervold, A. J., & Gillberg, C. (2005). Autistic features in a total population of 7-9-year-old children assessed by the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 167–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rapin, I., Steinberg, M., & Waterhouse, L. (1999). Consistency in the ratings of behaviors of communicatively impaired autistic and non-autistic preschool children. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 8, 214–224.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Shemmassian, S. K., & Lee, S. S. (2016). Predictive validity of four methods of incorporating parent and teacher symptom ratings of ADHD for longitudinal outcomes. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 45, 176–187.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Sollie, H., Larsson, B., & Morch, W.-T. (2013). Comparison of mother, father, and teacher reports of ADHD core symptoms in a sample of child psychiatric outpatients. Journal of Attention Disorders, 17, 699–710.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Stone, S. L., Speltz, M. L., Collett, B., & Werler, M. M. (2013). Socioeconomic factors in relation to discrepancy in parent versus teacher ratings of child behavior. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 35, 314–320.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. Strickland, J., Hopkins, J., & Keenan, K. (2012). Mother-teacher agreement on preschoolers’ symptoms of ODD and CD: Does context matter? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40, 933–943.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Tierney, C., Mayes, S. D., Lohs, S. R., Black, A., Gisin, E., & Veglia, M. (2015). How valid is the Checklist for Autism Spectrum Disorder when a child has apraxia of speech? Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 36, 569–574.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. van der Ende, J., Verhulst, F. C., & Tiemeier, H. (2012). Agreement on emotional and behavioral problems from childhood to adulthood. Psychological Assessment, 24, 293–300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Waxmonsky, J., Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., Fernandez-Mendoza, J., Waschbusch, D., & Bixler, E. O. (2017). Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder symptoms and sleep problems in child ADHD and general population samples. Sleep. doi:  10.1016/j.sleep.2017.02.006.Google Scholar
  50. Winsper, C., Lereya, T., Zanarini, M., & Wolke, D. (2012). Involvement in bullying and suicide-related behavior at 11 years: A prospective birth cohort study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 51, 271–282.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Wolraich, M. L., Lindgren, S. D., Stumbo, P. J., Stegink, L. D., Appelbaum, M. I., & Kiritsy, M. C. (1994). Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. New England Journal of Medicine, 330, 301–307.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Youngstrom, E., Loeber, R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (2000). Patterns and correlates of agreement between parent, teacher, and male adolescent ratings of externalizing and internalizing problems. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 1038–1050.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryPenn State College of MedicineHersheyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry H073Penn State College of MedicineHersheyUSA

Personalised recommendations