Profiling Autism Symptomatology: An Exploration of the Q-ASC Parental Report Scale in Capturing Sex Differences in Autism
The Questionnaire for Autism Spectrum Conditions (Q-ASC) was developed by Attwood et al. (2011) to identify gender-sensitive profiles of autism symptomatology; prioritise and adjust the direction of clinical interventions; and support positive psychosocial outcomes and prognosis into adulthood. The current research piloted the Q-ASC with parents of 238 children with a clinical diagnosis of ASD-Level 1 (without intellectual or language impairment). Data analysis revealed eight interpretable and reliable components of the Q-ASC using Principle components analysis. Comparisons across age and gender groups found statistically significant mean differences of parent-reported characteristics. The findings from this study aim to identify improvements in the Q-ASC towards the future assessment of the sensitivity and diversity of presentations of autism among female children and adolescents.
KeywordsAsperger’s syndrome Autism spectrum disorder Symptomatology Gender Females Girls Autism spectrum conditions
SO, MG, TA, and CB designed the study. MG, TA and AR designed the original measure. MG and TA collected the data. SO and CB analysed the data, and initially drafted the manuscript. All authors revised, developed, read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
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.
- Attwood, T. (2007). The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Attwood, T. (2012). Girls and women who have Asperger’s syndrome. In Safety skills for Asperger women: How to save a perfectly good female life. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Attwood, T., Garnett, M. S., & Rynkiewicz, A. (2011). Questionnaire for Autism Spectrum Conditions (Q-ASC) [Measurement instrument].Google Scholar
- Attwood, T., & Grandin, T. (2006). Asperger’s and girls: World-renowned experts join those with asperger’s syndrome to resolve issues that girls and women face every day! Arlington, TX: Future Horizons.Google Scholar
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014). Autism in Australia 2012, Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
- Bargiela, S., Steward, R., & Mandy, W. (2016). The experiences of late-diagnosed women with autism spectrum conditions: An investigation of the female autism phenotype. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(10), 3281–3294. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2872-8.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Bulhak-Paterson, D. (2015). I am an Aspie girl: A book for young girls with autism spectrum conditions. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Chawarska, K., Macari, S., Powell, K., DiNicola, L., & Shic, F. (2016). Enhanced social attention in female infant siblings at risk for autism. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(3), 188–195. Retrieved from https://www-clinicalkey-comau.ezproxy.usq.edu.au.
- Costello, A. B., & Osborne, J. W. (2005). Best practices in exploratory factor analyses: Four recommendations for getting the most from your analysis. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 10(7), 173–178.Google Scholar
- Cridland, E. K., Jones, S. C., Caputi, P., & Magee, C. A. (2014). Being a girl in a boys’ world: Investigating the experiences of girls with autism spectrum disorders during adolescence. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(6), 1261–1274. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1985-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- DiLavore, P. C., Lord, C., & Rutter, M. (1995). The pre-linguistic autism diagnostic observation schedule. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 25(4), 355–379. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.usq.edu.au.
- Dworzynski, K., Ronald, A., Bolton, P., & Happe, F. (2012). How different are girls and boys above and below the diagnostic threshold for autism spectrum disorders? Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(8), 788–797. Retrieved from https://www-clinicalkey-com-au.ezproxy.usq.edu.au.
- Field, A. (2014). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics (4th ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Giarelli, E., Wiggins, L. D., Rice, C. E., Levy, S. E., Kirby, R. S., Pinto-Martin, J., & Mandell, D. (2010). Sex differences in the evaluation and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders among children. Disability and Health Journal, 3(2), 107–116. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2009.07.001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Gould, J., & Ashton-Smith, J. (2011). Missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis? Girls and women on the autism spectrum. Good Autism Practice (GAP), 12(1), 34–41.Google Scholar
- Hartley, S. L., & Sikora, D. M. (2009). Sex differences in autism spectrum disorder: An examination of developmental functioning, autistic symptoms, and coexisting behavior problems in toddlers. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(12), 1715–1722. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0810-8.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Kline, P. (1994). An easy guide to factor analysis. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Kopp, S., & Gillberg, C. (2011). The autism spectrum screening questionnaire (ASSQ)-Revised Extended Version (ASSQ-REV): An instrument for better capturing the autism phenotype in girls? A preliminary study involving 191 clinical cases and community controls. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32(6), 2875–2888. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2011.05.017.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lai, M. C., Lombardo, M. V., Auyeung, B., Chakrabarti, B., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2015). Sex/gender differences and autism: Setting the scene for future research. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(1), 11–24. Retrieved from https://www-clinicalkey-com-au.ezproxy.usq.edu.au.
- Ledesma, R. D., & Valero-Mora, P. (2007). Determining the number of factors to retain in EFA: An easy-to-use computer program for carrying out parallel analysis. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 12(2), 1–11. Retrieved from http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=12&n=2.
- Rynkiewicz, A., Schuller, B., Marchi, E., Piana, S., Camurri, A., Lassalle, A., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2016). An investigation of the ‘female camouflage effect’ in autism using a computerized ADOS-2, and a test of sex/gender differences. Molecular Autism, 7(1), 10. doi: 10.1186/s13229-016-0073-0.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Simone, R. (2010). Aspergirls: Empowering females with Asperger syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Skuse, D., Warrington, R., Bishop, D., Chowdhury, U., Lau, J., Mandy, W., & Place, M. (2004). The developmental, dimensional and diagnostic interview: A novel computerized assessment for autism spectrum disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(5), 548–558. doi: 10.1097/01.chi.0000117041.35450.2d.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Tabachnick, B. G., Fidell, L. S., & Osterlind, S. J. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
- Taylor, L., Brown, P., Eapen, V., Midford, S., Paynter, J., Quarmby, L., …, Whitehouse, A. (2016). Autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in Australia: Are we meeting best practice standards. Brisbane: Autism Co-operative Research Centre.Google Scholar
- Wilkinson, L. A. (2008). The gender gap in asperger syndrome: Where are the girls? Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, 4(4), 2–9. Retrieved from:http://escholarship.bc.edu/education/tecplus.
- Willey, L. H. (2015). Pretending to be normal: Living with Asperger’s syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) expanded edition. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Zwaigenbaum, L., Bryson, S. E., Szatmari, P., Brian, J., Smith, I. M., Roberts, W., … & Roncadin, C. (2012). Sex differences in children with autism spectrum disorder identified within a high-risk infant cohort. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(12), 2585–2596. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1515-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar