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Comparison of Parent Report and Direct Assessment of Child Skills in Toddlers. Res Autism Spectr Disord 2017 Sep;41-42:57-65



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85028440659 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   48 Citations


BACKGROUND: There are unique challenges associated with measuring development in early childhood. Two primary sources of information are used: parent report and direct assessment. Each approach has strengths and weaknesses, particularly when used to identify and diagnose developmental delays. The present study aimed to evaluate consistency between parent report and direct assessment of child skills in toddlers with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) across receptive language, expressive language, and fine motor domains.

METHOD: 109 children were evaluated at an average age of two years; data on child skills were collected via parent report and direct assessment. Children were classified into three groups (i.e., ASD, Other Developmental Disorder, or Typical Development) based on DSM-IV-TR diagnosis. Mixed design ANOVAs, with data source as a within subjects factor and diagnostic group as a between subjects factor, were used to assess agreement. Chi square tests of agreement were then used to examine correspondence at the item level.

RESULTS: Results suggested that parent report of language and fine motor skills did not significantly differ from direct assessment, and this finding held across diagnostic groups. Item level analyses revealed that, in most cases of significant disagreement, parents reported a skill as present, but it was not seen on direct testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that parents are generally reliable reporters of child language and fine motor abilities in toddlerhood, even when their children have developmental disorders such as ASD. However, the fullest picture may be obtained by using both parent report and direct assessment.

Author List

Miller LE, Perkins KA, Dai YG, Fein DA


Lauren E. Miller PhD Assistant Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin