The Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

  1. Goldstein, J Naglieri & S Ozonoff(Eds.) New York: The Guilford Press, 2008


As an educational/child psychologist working in Hong Kong I have provided hundreds of assessments for children with suspected autism spectrum disorder. A recent book by widely respected practitioners and researchers from America was recently reviewed. Although the book is slightly dated the bulk of it is still relevant today. This is a book written by a multidisciplinary team of authors mainly based in the USA, with one chapter, the Epidemiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders, written by authors in the UK and another, Assessment of Social Behaviour in Autism Spectrum Disorders, by authors from Israel.  This book will be a valuable asset to clinicians and other professionals involved in the assessment and intervention planning for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Although the main focus of the book is on assessment, the first chapter provides an informative overview of the key historical figures form the last 200 years.  A chapter written by Lorna Wing and David Potter, which reviews the epidemiology of these conditions, then follows.  The authors debate the impact of both the modifications of the diagnostic criteria and the increasing global awareness of these conditions on prevalence rates.  There is also a balanced discussion of the role of possible environmental factors.

Chapter 3 provides a comprehensive critique of several of the key diagnostic tools.  Other chapters consider in more detail the diagnostic process, including a comprehensive skills and needs based assessment.  This process takes time and can be resource intensive.

The main body of the book focuses on various aspects of the diagnostic process.  Each subsequent chapter covers a different aspect of assessment such as speech, language and communication; intellectual functioning; neuropsychological functioning; and the assessment in schools.  As a senior trainee clinician in child and adolescent psychiatry two other chapters stood out.  The first was the Assessment of Comorbid Conditions, which provides a framework for assessing comorbidity and outlines some of the difficulties in the process.  The second was the chapter on intervention, which includes helpful case vignettes that illustrate how the assessment findings can be used to formulate an individual education plan (IEP), identify therapeutic targets, and maximise the generalisation of newly learnt skills.

In summary, although the majority of the authors are based in the USA, the underlying assessment and intervention principals are universal.  This new publication provides an up to date overview of the literature and examples of current best practice.