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J Autism Dev Disord. 1999 Aug;29(4):307-17.

Social and nonsocial factors in the Childhood Autism Rating Scale.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida 33124, USA.


The Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) was factor analyzed to determine if distinct and independent "subgroups" of symptoms could be derived, which would be consistent with the current multidimensional theory and nosology for autism. To address this issue, the CARS was factor analyzed for a sample of 90 children with diagnoses of either autism or PDDNOS, based on DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria. Five factors emerged: Social Communication, Emotional Reactivity, Social Orienting, Cognitive and Behavioral Consistency, and Odd Sensory Exploration. Factor-based scales were created. These factor-based scales were demonstrated to distinguish subjects with autism from subjects with PDDNOS and nonautistic subjects. Factor-based scores were examined to determine the degree to which they were associated with individual differences (such as age, IQ, gender, history of regression, and history of abnormal EEGs) among children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). The application of these distinct and independent factors may have important clinical and research implications. The generation of factor-based scales may provide information on the nature of the individual differences that are thought to be present among children with autism. Additionally, the use of factor-based scale scores may increase the sensitivity of the CARS for identifying younger and/or higher functioning individuals within the PDD spectrum.

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