Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 3847–3856 | Cite as

Psychometric Properties of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale: Parent Report in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Katia JitlinaEmail author
  • Bruno Zumbo
  • Pat Mirenda
  • Laurie Ford
  • Teresa Bennett
  • Stelios Georgiades
  • Charlotte Waddell
  • Isabel M. Smith
  • Joanne Volden
  • Eric Duku
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
  • Peter Szatmari
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
  • Mayada Elsabbagh
S.I. : Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorders


Although anxiety is frequently reported in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), existing anxiety scales are often psychometrically inappropriate for this population. This study examined the internal structure, reliability, convergent and discriminant validity of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale-Parent Report (SCAS-P; Spence 1999) in 238 school-aged children with ASD. While confirmatory factor analysis did not support the original six-correlated-factor structure, structural support as well as acceptable internal consistency and convergent validity was found for Generalized Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, Panic, and Agoraphobia subscales. Use of the SCAS-P in its original form for assessment in children with ASD was not supported. However, four subscales showed viability, and may benefit re-analyses of existing SCAS-P data and future scale adaptations for research and clinical purposes.


Anxiety Measurement Validity Factor analysis Parent-report 



The authors thank all of the children and families who participated in the Pathways in ASD study. This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, NeuroDevNet, Autism Speaks, the Government of British Columbia, the Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, the Sinneave Family Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Author Contributions

KJ led the design of the study, statistical analyses, interpretation, drafting and revisions of the manuscript. BZ oversaw the study design, statistical analyses and interpretation, and contributed to the drafting and revision of the manuscript. PM contributed to the study design, and made substantial contributions to the drafting of the manuscript and revisions. LF contributed the study design and the drafting of the manuscript. TB, SG, CW, IS, JV, ED, LZ, PS, TV and ME conceived the study, contributed to coordination of data collection, and critical revisions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katia Jitlina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bruno Zumbo
    • 1
  • Pat Mirenda
    • 1
  • Laurie Ford
    • 1
  • Teresa Bennett
    • 2
  • Stelios Georgiades
    • 2
  • Charlotte Waddell
    • 3
  • Isabel M. Smith
    • 4
  • Joanne Volden
    • 5
  • Eric Duku
    • 2
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
    • 5
  • Peter Szatmari
    • 6
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
    • 7
  • Mayada Elsabbagh
    • 8
  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Simon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  4. 4.Dalhousie University/IWK Health CentreHalifaxCanada
  5. 5.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  6. 6.Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Hospital for Sick ChildrenUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  7. 7.University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  8. 8.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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