Improving the Reliability of Autism Diagnoses: Examining the Utility of Adaptive Behavior

  • Stacey S. Tomanik
  • Deborah A. Pearson
  • Katherine A. Loveland
  • David M. Lane
  • J. Bryant Shaw
Original Paper


The classification agreement of the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) was examined in 129 children and adolescents (aged 7–18 years) who were evaluated for autism. Participants received a diagnosis of autism or non-autism based on the ADI-R. Linear discriminant analysis revealed adequate concordance between the ADI-R and ADOS, with 75% of the participants being correctly classified using the ADOS. Classification accuracy significantly improved to 84% when a measure of adaptive functioning (i.e., the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales) was included in the analysis. The findings suggest that when clinicians obtain discrepant information on the ADI-R and ADOS, assessment of an individual’s adaptive functioning may reduce diagnostic errors.


Autism diagnosis Diagnostic reliability Autism spectrum disorders Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) Vineland Adaptive functioning 



We wish to thank the parents, teachers, and children who participated in this study. This research project was supported in part by NICHD grant P01 HD35471, which is affiliated with the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stacey S. Tomanik
    • 1
  • Deborah A. Pearson
    • 1
  • Katherine A. Loveland
    • 1
  • David M. Lane
    • 2
  • J. Bryant Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Texas Medical School at HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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