Personalized Autism Symptom Assessment With the Youth Top Problems Scale: Observational and Parent-Report Formats for Clinical Trials Applications

Jeffrey J. Wood, Megan Kuhfeld, Alexandra Sturm, Li Cai, Karen S. Wood, Maria V.Cornejo Guevara, Chardée A. Galán, Amanda R. Johnson, An Chuen Cho, John R. Weisz

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Abstract

Few measures of autism-related symptoms have been established as both psychometrically robust and sensitive to the effects of treatment. In the present study, a personalized measure of autism-related symptoms using the Youth Top Problems (YTP) method (Weisz et al., 2011) was evaluated. Participants included 68 children with diagnoses of autism (ages 6–13 years), and their parents, who were randomized to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or enhanced standard community treatment (ESCT) addressing autism-related symptoms. At pretreatment, parents described their child’s top autism-related problems (YTPs) in their own words and rated the severity of these problems on a Likert-type scale. Parents also made daily severity ratings on the child’s top three YTPs for 5 days prior to treatment and 5 days following treatment while videorecording their child’s behavior at home on each of these days. Trained observers coded these videorecordings, focusing on the same YTPs that the parents rated. Parents also completed standardized checklists of autism-related symptoms and general mental health symptoms. There was evidence of convergent and discriminant validity as well as good test–retest reliability for the YTP measures. YTP severity scores converged with the standardized measure of autism-related symptoms. Parent-reported YTP scores predicted observers’ YTP scores at the daily level, and both parent-reported and observers’ YTP scores decreased from pre- to post treatment. Observers’ ratings of the videorecordings exhibited sensitivity to treatment condition. These applications of the YTP method are promising and may complement standardized symptom checklists for clinical trials focusing on autism-related symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalPsychological Assessment
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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