Objective: This study was concerned with the development of quantitative measures of social development in autism.
Method: Multiple regression equations predicting social, communicative, and daily living skills on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales were derived from a large, normative sample and applied to groups of autistic and nonautistic, developmentally disordered children. Predictive models included either mental or chronological age and other relevant variables.
Results: Social skills in the autistic group were more than two standard deviations below those predicted by their mental age; an index derived from the ratio of actual to predicted social skills correctly classified 94% of the autistic and 92% of the nonautistic, developmentally disordered cases.
Conclusions: The findings are consistent with the idea that social disturbance is central in the definition of autism. The approach used in this study has potential advantages for providing more precise measures of social development in autism.