Objective: Frontline health professionals need a "red flag" tool to aid their decision making about whether to make a referral for a full diagnostic assessment for an autism spectrum condition (ASC) in children and adults. The aim was to identify 10 items on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) (Adult, Adolescent, and Child versions) and on the Quantitative Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (Q-CHAT) with good test accuracy.
Method: A case sample of more than 1,000 individuals with ASC (449 adults, 162 adolescents, 432 children and 126 toddlers) and a control sample of 3,000 controls (838 adults, 475 adolescents, 940 children, and 754 toddlers) with no ASC diagnosis participated. Case participants were recruited from the Autism Research Centre's database of volunteers. The control samples were recruited through a variety of sources. Participants completed full-length versions of the measures. The 10 best items were selected on each instrument to produce short versions.
Results: At a cut-point of 6 on the AQ-10 adult, sensitivity was 0.88, specificity was 0.91, and positive predictive value (PPV) was 0.85. At a cut-point of 6 on the AQ-10 adolescent, sensitivity was 0.93, specificity was 0.95, and PPV was 0.86. At a cut-point of 6 on the AQ-10 child, sensitivity was 0.95, specificity was 0.97, and PPV was 0.94. At a cut-point of 3 on the Q-CHAT-10, sensitivity was 0.91, specificity was 0.89, and PPV was 0.58. Internal consistency was >0.85 on all measures.
Conclusions: The short measures have potential to aid referral decision making for specialist assessment and should be further evaluated.