Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 2375–2380 | Cite as

Brief Report: Can Metrics of Reporting Bias Enhance Early Autism Screening Measures?

  • Cora M. Taylor
  • Alison Vehorn
  • Hylan Noble
  • Amy S. Weitlauf
  • Zachary E. Warren
Brief Report


The goal of the current study was to develop and pilot the utility of two simple internal response bias metrics, over-reporting and under-reporting, in terms of additive clinical value within common screening practices for early detection of autism spectrum disorder risk. Participants were caregivers and children under 36 months of age (n = 145) participating in first-time diagnostic appointments across our clinical research center due to developmental concerns. Caregivers were asked to complete the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT) as well as a questionnaire embedding six response bias indicator questions. These questions were items that in previous clinical studies had been endorsed by an overwhelming majority of parents within clinically identified populations. Results indicated that removal of self-reports indicative of potential response bias dramatically reduced both false positives and false negatives on the MCHAT within this sample. This suggests that future work developing internal metrics of response bias may be promising in addressing limits of current screening measures and practices.


Autism Screening Early identification Internal metrics 



This work was supported in part by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. This includes core support from CTSA award No. UL1TR000445 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [R01 HD057284-02 and R01 HD039961]. Support was also provided by Health Resources and Service Administration’s Maternal Child Health Bureau LEND Grant [T73MC00050]. Portions of this paper were presented at the 2013 International Meeting of Autism Research, San Sebastian, Spain.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cora M. Taylor
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alison Vehorn
    • 1
  • Hylan Noble
    • 1
    • 4
  • Amy S. Weitlauf
    • 1
    • 5
  • Zachary E. Warren
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Treatment and Research in Autism Spectrum DisordersVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Pediatrics and PsychiatryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Autism & Developmental Medicine InstituteGeisinger Health SystemLewisburgUSA
  4. 4.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PediatricsVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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