Objective: Anxiety is common in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is no accepted outcome measure for anxiety in this population.
Method: Following a series of focus groups with parents of youth with ASD, we generated 72 items (scored 0-3). Parents of 990 youth with ASD (aged 5-17 years; 80.8% male) completed an online survey. Factor analysis and item response theory analyses reduced the content to a single factor with 25 items. Youth with at least mild anxiety (n = 116; aged 5-17 years; 79.3% male) participated in a comprehensive clinical assessment to evaluate the validity and reliability of the 25-item Parent-Rated Anxiety Scale for ASD (PRAS-ASD).
Results: In the online sample, the mean PRAS-ASD score was 29.04 ± 14.9 (range, 0-75). The coefficient α was 0.93. The item response theory results indicated excellent reliability across a wide range of scores with low standard errors. In the clinical sample (n = 116), the PRAS-ASD mean was 31.0 ± 15.6 (range, 1-65). Pearson correlations with parent ratings of ASD symptom severity, repetitive behavior, and disruptive behavior ranged 0.33 to 0.66, supporting divergent validity of the PRAS-ASD. Pearson correlation with a parent-rated measure of anxiety used in the general pediatric population of 0.83 supported convergent validity. A total of 40 participants (32 boys, 8 girls; mean age, 11.9 ± 3.4 years) returned at time 2 (mean, 12.2 days) and time 3 (mean, 24.2 days). Intraclass correlation showed test-retest reliabilities of 0.88 and 0.86 at time 2 and time 3, respectively.
Conclusion: The 25-item PRAS-ASD is a reliable and valid scale for measuring anxiety in youth with ASD.
Keywords: anxiety; autism; outcome measurement.
Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.